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Player Handbook Table of Contents Volleyball Specific Handouts • Skill Specific Learning Cues • Volleyball Specific Rules • Thoughts on Passing • Basic Underhand Passing Tips • Serve Receive and Ball Trajectory • Standing Float Serving • Jump Serving for Younger Players • Setting • Spiking • Three Key Ideas for Basic Offenses • Creating a Strong Quick Attack • Developing a Killer Arm Swing • Finding the Kill • The Dink • The Defensive Dig • Defensive Positioning Chart • Blank Defensive Positioning Chart • Blocking • Closing the Block • VBIQ • Training Without a Net or Friend • Volleyball Slang Other Handouts • Getting Started • Your Education • Team Philosophy • Normal Expectations • Practice • My Favorite Player • Splinter Siblings • How To Train Well • You Can’t Give 110 Percent

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Positive Thinking The Great Competitor Acknowledging Team Plays and Players Attitude and Preparation Being a Team Player Team Spirit Above and Beyond Compete Only against Yourself Excellence Game Competition Success Mental Imagery Mistakes Motivational Strategies Satisfaction Success in Life The Value of a Smile The Journey Through Adolescence Benefits of Female Sports It’s Not Where You Are, It’s Who You Are Coach John Wooden’s Philosophy on Success How to Eat For Success

Forms • Statistics Sheet • Scouting Template


Skill Specific Learning Cues

Underhand Passing: “Feet to the Ball” or “Shuffle”-Try to get to the spot the ball is going before the ball gets there. Straight and Simple- Keep platform flat and passing motion as simple (least amount of movement) as possible. Face the Ball, Angle the Arms-Face the ball and drop the shoulder closest to the direction of the target. If you are passing the ball on your right side you should be facing off towards your right and dropping your left shoulder because the target is now on your left. Read the server-Watch the toss (if it is behind the player be prepared for a short serve, watch the direction of the players feet, how far they get their elbow back, and follow through (top spin) no follow through (float). Thumbs even and together early and till target- Hands together early and they should stay together until ball reaches target. Overhand Passing:

Face the target Thumbs out, stiff fingers Strong Shoulders Follow through high (hand above forehead)


Hands up early Feet to the ball Extend Face the Outside “square up”


Timing (right), Direction (Left), Explode (right-left) Small, Bigger, Biggest (foot work) Parallel Armswing (both arms should be swung back so they are parallel to the ground and to each other. Arms should go back and up, not out to the side) Open up (bow and arrow, left arm points to the ball and right elbow cocks back as far as possible. Left shoulder should be facing the net, left foot parallel to the net in order to cock elbow back for power.


Swing fast (when armswing is begun it should be done as fast as possible. The faster the armswing the harder the hit. Underhand Dig:

Get low-the lower you are; 1. The more time you have to react, 2. The more balance you have, 3. The easier it is to dive. Anticipate-Watch the angle of approach, angle of hitter’s shoulders and the hitters elbow (back, expect hard driven ball, elbow forward prepare for tip), watch how close the set is to the net(tight set- be ready to step up) (off the net-back up, impossible to hit short ball). Get to where you think they are going to hit the ball early and be stopped when they hit the ball. On every play make and educated guess as to where you think the ball will be hit. Keep it simple and keep it straight: (try not to add momentum to the ball by swinging your arms). Do not hide behind the block- If you can’t see the hitter you can’t dig the ball. Know where your defensive position should be in relation to the block. Face attacker, drop shoulder closest to the target


Eyes (ball, setter, ball, hitter) Anticipate-Watch the angle of approach, angle of hitter’s shoulders and the hitters elbow (back, expect hard driven ball, elbow forward prepare for tip). Get to where you think they are going to hit the ball early and be stopped when they hit the ball. Gather elbows in front of your body before you jump so that you can shoot them over the net to penetrate Hands facing middle back Close the block(shoulder to shoulder)- we should have two blockers up every time on the outside hitter. Blocker should get shoulder to shoulder then reach to the middle back. Not getting shoulder to shoulder is unacceptable. Our Ohs will swing block solo on back sets and slides. Mbs should help out left sides blocking in the middle on good passes but remember middles primary responsibility is to block outsides.


Volleyball Specific Rules •

The ball should never hit the floor without someone diving for it.

If a hitter makes a mistake try to set them again if possible. Especially with our stronger hitters.

During serve-receive, keep elbows locked out while underhand passing. Keep elbows locked for 2 seconds before and after underhand pass. If a passer likes to pass a good portion of her passes overhand she should start in a position with her elbows bent.

Left and right side hitters get two feet outside the court and 2 feet behind ten foot line for approach.

For free-balls (non-spikes) use the overhand pass which is more accurate.

When the other team passes the ball poorly or sets the ball poorly call free-ball and be prepared for the non-spiked ball to come over the net. A free-ball is anything that is not spiked hard. A free-ball usually starts with a bad pass and bad set. If the other team makes a poor pass or poor set be prepared to call “free ball” or “trouble”.

Front row players back up and prepare to overhand pass and hit, the back row players step forward and prepare to overhand pass.

We have our back row

players come forward because the middle of the court is now vulnerable because there is no block. •

Overhand pass free-balls one foot right of center and one foot off the net (2 &2).

Dig spikes to the middle of the court, ten feet off the net.

Pass serves 2 feet in front of setter and 2 feet off the net (2 and 2).

Middle and end blockers should release towards the strongest front row hitter when the other team passes the ball poorly. On bad passes the other team will almost always set their strongest attacker.

Left side blockers help block in the middle on a good pass, unless opposing team has a strong right side attack (watch for OH1 hitting on right in row 1).


Always serve the other team’s worst passer or a hitting-passer (the passer to your far right.

Only tip on perfect sets.

When hitting, Outsides and Opposites should take 4-step (right, left, right-left) approach, Middles 3-step (left, right-left) approach. This only applies to right handers. Note: There are times in transition when a hitter doesn’t have the time or space needed to take 4-step approach or 3-step approach.

Liberos- never hand set a hitter when you are in front of the ten-foot-line. It is a high school, club and collegiate rule.


Thoughts on Passing By Eric Sullivan, Team USA Since I started playing volleyball at the collegiate level I’ve always been considered a "passing" outside hitter. What does that mean exactly? I’m not really sure, but I think it means that I’m an outside hitter with especially good reception skills. Now that I’m with the USA National Team, I’ve made the switch to libero, again primarily because of my passing skills. So when I was asked to write up a "how to" article, I decided to go with passing because it’s probably my best skill. I could go into everything you’ve heard before about footwork, having a good platform, staying low, etc, but I think it would be more interesting to go over a couple of abstract ideas that you don’t normally find in a volleyball instructional manual. The first idea is that of "reading" the server. In every sport that I can think of, every player and team tries to foresee what the other team is going to do. Hence, you watch endless hours of video and read thousands of pages of scouting reports- especially at UCLA, thanks Al. Typically, coaches tend to forget or overlook serving tendencies. These can be charted just like you would chart a team’s offense. Quite often a player only has one or two serves that he or she uses, so this can be very advantageous for the passers. The passers can adjust their starting positions according to the servers’ tendencies, thus giving the passers an easier time passing the ball. If you don’t have the information on a team before you play them, it still possible to predict where the server is going to serve before he serves. The typical server gives many clues to where he/she is going to serve the ball. The most obvious is where the server is facing. This doesn’t always help because sometimes the server might be trying to fool you, but often he/she was taught to face where they are going to serve. Another clue is to look at the server’s foot positioning. A lot of times this will be in the direction that the player serves the ball. You can also watch the toss. Sometimes the toss dictates where the ball can be served. For example, if the player tosses the ball inside his/her body line and has to reach to the angle to contact it, there is a good chance that this ball is going to go the cross


court. This works for jump servers as well. Many times the server is only able to serve in one direction because of the toss. As the level of play increases, some of these signs will be harder to read, because the server is aware of them as well and will try to hide them, but even at the highest level these signs are very helpful for the passer. The next idea is that of starting positions. Many times a team will have a dominant passer, or someone who tends to take more court because he/she is a better passer. What tends to happen is that the opposing team will not serve the other team’s best passer for obvious reasons. In this situation, the coach or the dominant passer should push the other passer over, in effect taking more court space. He/she should continue to push that player over until they start to receive some balls. This does two things; it makes it easier for the other player to pass because they have less space to cover, and it forces the other team to serve the better passer. If the dominant passer is starting to pass poorly, then he/she has taken too much court and should move back until they feel comfortable. Establishing this equilibrium could take a little time, but when the players feel comfortable with their positioning, the overall passing of the team will be greatly improved. Hopefully these ideas will help improve your passing. Of course you still need to master the basic skills involved with passing, but once those skills are mastered in addition to these ideas, you will be able to pass well at any level.


Basic Underhand Passing Tips 1. Place your feet shoulder width apart with your knees bent. 2. Shuffle to the ball quickly keeping hands apart and set your feet in position before executing a pass. 3. Bring your hands together forming a good forearm platform with your thumbs parallel, locking your elbows, and pushing your forearms together. 4. Face the ball. 5. Receive the ball with your arms parallel to your thighs, leaning forward and drop your shoulder closest to the target 6. With contact of the ball, move your arms forward and upward slightly and transfer your weight forward 7. Most passes should be taken outside of midline. After the pass is made keep platform stationary until ball reaches target (stick it). 8. Follow through by keeping your arms below shoulder level, elbows locked and hands together 9. Keep your eye on the ball Tips: 1. The less movement, or swing, of your arms the more control you will have (keep it simple, keep it straight).


Serve Receive and Ball Trajectory

Follow the Cues from the Server and the Ball Train yourself to focus in on the following “cues” from the server and their serve receive skills will improve dramatically! 1. Where are the server's hips and shoulders squared to? * All servers square to the direction they are going to attempt to serve the ball. 2. Where is the server stepping with their front foot? * Just as when an athlete throws a ball - they will step in the direction they are attempting to serve. When facing a server who doesn't step, simply focus in on where their front foot is pointing. * As they begin to serve, where is their serving arm moving towards? Again, just as when throwing a ball, the servers serving arm will begin forward in the direction they are attempting to serve. Once the server contacts the ball, passers must immediately pick up on the following “cues” from the ball: 1. Speed how fast is the ball traveling * it will only slow down from the time it leaves the servers hand * if it comes out slow, it's going to be short! 2. Spin-is it top spinning? 3. Height - how high above the net is the ball traveling? By learning to pick up on these three cues and their possible combinations, the passer can predict the balls course and react to its flight more quickly. Examples of possible cue combinations: 1. Fast, low and top-spin: The ball will dive quickly toward the end of it's flight. It will be medium in depth at best. 2. Fast, high and top spin: The ball will be deeper and may come down by the back line. 3. Fast, high, and floating: The ball will be deeper, and may be out. 4. Slow, high, and floating: The ball will be shorter, coming down further up in the court than thought. 5. Fast, low, and floating: The ball will be medium to long in depth, and may go long.


-Note: Many times, I relate this to reading the flight of a softball off the bat on a fly ball in the outfield. (I coach softball as well) Teaching yourself to focus in on these cues will immediately improve their reaction time and movement to the ball. At the same time, it will keep your thoughts clear, focused on the task at hand, and free of any distractions!


Standing Float Serving

The opening play in volleyball is initiated when one team successfully serves to another. A successful serve is one which crosses the net (between the wands) into the opponents court and is touched by an opposing player before going out of bounds; or, which crosses the net and hits the floor while remaining inbounds (ace). The serve may touch the net as long as it lands as described above. An unsuccessful serve: a. The server’s foot touches the service line while serving. b. The ball does not cross the net. c. The ball passes outside of or, touches the wands. d. The ball crosses the net but lands out of bounds. * Note: an unsuccessful serve results in one point for the opposing team. * * To test a new players physical ability to serve: Have player a throw the ball from one end of the court to the other. The player should exhibit good form (throw off the back foot, opposite hand forward, step into the throw with forward foot, body turned 90 deg. to start, follow through turning body for power). When form is correct, increase speed. Serving: A. Remain well behind the service line (give yourself room for a small step forward, with your forward foot, when you serve). B. Strike the ball so that it crosses the net, inbounds, to your opponent’s court. Draw, then toss Draw, then toss: (for right-handed hitter) left hand, holding the ball, left elbow bent with left triceps resting against torso and ball positioned in front of the server’s right side (shoulder). The


left foot is pointing in the direction of the desired flight of the ball while the right foot is position to be perpendicular to the left foot in order to allow for the rotation of the body for maximum power on the serve. The right elbow is drawn back as far as possible while making sure the elbow is above shoulder lever. The server tosses or lifts the ball in front of her right side and out in front of her body. If the ball were not swung at, it would bounce on the floor in front of the server’s right side. The toss is an important training element. A consistent toss will produce fewer variables to contend with when contacting the ball. As a server lifts the ball, she should already have drawn the elbow back for power. This is the Draw, then Toss phase. Many young servers toss the ball without the draw and lose all the power a swing is supposed to muster. Contact After the toss and draw phase, a server steps with her front-left foot toward the toss. As the server transfers her weight forward, her right shoulder and elbow initiate a fast forward swing toward the ball. Contact is with a rigid hand and wrist and should be solid, using a firm heel and palm. The fingers are spread but firm and are ball-shaped to support a secondary, solid contact. The floater serve is contacted in front of the right side of the body, and the high hand hits solidly behind the middle, or meat, of the ball creating little or no spin, with a non follow-through. Its unpredictable path resembles a baseball pitchers knuckleball. The inconsistent trajectory causes a serve receiver to make poor judgment when moving to the ball. Things to consider: 1. Velocity. The faster the serve, the less time your opponents have to decide who is taking it and move to intercept it. Because of the speed of the ball, if it is mishandled (shanked, too tight a pass, etc..), teammates have to react quicker and the potential for a disaster is greater. 2. Position (Where you serve the ball). Seaming players (going between them) creates a situation where two people have to decide who will pass the ball. If the ball is served directly at someone, there are fewer decisions to make. Adding more people to the


decision process increases the potential for disaster. Deep corner serves are difficult to get to and are more difficult to control. Short serves have a greater opportunity to be passes back over the net or into it. 3. Type of serve. Floaters-Most passers do not focus intensely on the ball during its entire flight. A floater changes direction, sliding either up, down, left, or right. 4. Choice of Serve. The larger a repertoire of serves a player has the less prepared their opponents will be. Mixing serves up adds the element of surprise and hinders the opponent’s ability to anticipate and be ready. Cues for Floaters: -Point, Draw, Toss, Pop -Bow and arrow -Left foot pointing to target (right foot perpendicular to left) -Hitting elbow above shoulder (at all times) -Toss ball in front of right side -Strike ball with flat hand -Hit straight through the ball -No follow-through (creates floater effect)


Jump Serving for Younger Players Young players can benefit in a number of ways from developing a topspin jump serve. Obviously, players benefit in that they learn a serve that can be a valuable scoring threat not only at their level, but also at the higher levels. But this is not the only advantage for young players who learn how to jump serve. Jump serving requires an excellent topspin armswing and contact. Learning a healthy armswing at a young age can drastically increase that player’s chances of success and decrease the likelihood of pain/injury caused by improper mechanics. By moving far away from the net, players must drive the ball deep and up off of their hand in order to make the ball go over the net. This movement relates directly to a spike armswing, so players can basically learn two things at once, without factors like tight or off sets. By “setting” themselves players also take sole responsibility for their skill. There are two important concerns, however, when considering whether or not a young player should learn a jump serve. First, if a player cannot successfully execute many topspin swings in a row on the ground then she should not try to jump serve, because the toss and jump simply complicates matters. Many players use improper mechanics to “just get it over” and end up developing poor habits that can lead to injury over time. This can also actually decrease their success in learning how to jump serve effectively. A healthy armswing uses the body (core) and the elbow (upswing) to take most of the stress from the shoulder. Also, it is important for players to land in a strong two-footed, bent-kneed position with their shoulders well in front of their hips facing their target. This position will allow the impact from landing to be absorbed most effectively. Second, young players should limit the number of swings that they take from the back line. Remember, it’s quality over quantity. The stress on the shoulder joint (even when a jump serve armswing is executed properly) is considerable. Players can learn/practice the mechanics for the serve from halfway back in the court instead of all the way to the backline to get their motion down without overusing their shoulder. Players under 12 years old should also use the lighter ball to minimize the stress caused from contact. In fact, most players under 12 years old


should not jump serve at all. Their time is best spent learning a foundation of skill that includes a healthy armswing. Many players jump serve before their shoulder has developed enough strength and stability to handle the workload needed to maintain a strong position in the air and throughout their armswing. This puts undue stress on the shoulder and can lead to injury. For the best results over time players should develop a strong foundation of skill before progressing to the jump serve, limit the number of swings they take by taking quality swings (many from closer to the net than the back line), and prepare their body physically before they attempt a jump serve in the game. Then, when the time is right, bombs away!



Witnessing the passion, competitiveness, and skill of a strong setter is seeing winning in the making! The size of the setter does not define success; the class of the setter defines success. Whining is unacceptable for a setter.

Because of a setter’s leadership role, she is held to a

higher standard. A positive attitude is essential. What makes an effective setter is a well-balanced combination of characteristics. Competitiveness ranks at the top of that list on our court. Each setter is an extension of the coach and should copy the coach’s style in his or her own unique way. The setter should be simple, efficient, and not dramatic in presentation of the feet or the ball to the hitter. The successful setter moves in a direct line to the ball and then rakes a position to deliver it efficiently to the hitter, yet presents deception to the defense across the net.

The set is

a delivery of the ball, usually from the fingers above the head with a release by pushing the ball upward. The setter can set the ball with her feet on the floor or jump-set by jumping before setting the ball. Jumping provides the setter with greater ability to attack the ball and makes the blockers have to think about defending the setter dump as well as block the other hitters. When the setter brings the hands up, thumbs should be pointing at the top of the forehead. Footwork includes an explosion to the ball, arriving early and in medium position with hands up. Run to the ball. Left-right-left is ideal for footwork from ready position at the net. When arriving at the net, the setter should be right of center and as close to the net as possible without foot-faulting (setter may want to start off the net a little more in defensive transition, when balls are dug to the 10-foot line). The weight at the net should be on the right foot, ready to take the first step with the left foot to chase down the ball.


Before moving toward the ball, the ready position for a setter includes the body in medium position.

Again, I emphasize that the chase comes before the set. Because the setter must run

before setting, it is not necessary to give the passer a hand-up-high target although we do like hands up early and fast to set. Finally the extension and follow-through of the hands, arms and the body are critical to powerful setting. A SETTER: Is contagiously passionate for the game. Expects to win a rally. Competes in a way that defines winning as a work ethic that outshines the opponent. Thinks intelligently and has good study practices in and out of the classroom. Is efficient, prompt, and neat. Digests information communicates in a way that people understand, appreciate and respect. Craves infinite repetitions and sees the need for advanced training. Respects and believes in the coach. Doesn’t play fair to hitters (by sharing sets with all) but instead plays to win. Maintains an emotional level that is neither too high nor too low and stays off the roller coaster. Boosts team rather than tearing team down. Transitions well. Values varied offensive plays and understands the need for variation. Likes the bluff and is deceptive and sneaky. Welcomes physical training. Focuses on strengths, yet is aware of weaknesses. Accepts role of playing defense as well as running the offense. Plays within self. Can step it up when necessary. Wants to develop and believes there is another level. Posture, eye contact, belief and encouragement of teammates are qualities that coaches love to see in their setters.



On our team, there is no such thing as giving the other team a free ball. Test your limitations.

Even if the set isn’t perfect take a swing on the ball.

Players who aren’t

making mistakes in practice aren’t pushing themselves to see what they are really capable of doing.

As a team we praise girls for making mistakes while trying to improve rather than

playing it safe. Practice is a safe environment for making mistakes in order to grow as a player. A hitter’s approach is intended to bring speed and momentum into her jump. momentum generated will have a direct effect on your jump. your approach are the last two dynamic steps.

The speed and

The most important steps for

For a right-hander this would be the right-left

step. Your last two steps convert your horizontal momentum into vertical lift. The second to last step is a broad (long) step. This step is also a breaking step to stop forward momentum. Your right foot should land pointing in the direction of the left back corner of the opponent’s court. As your right foot is planted, your left foot simply steps forward as the balance step, readying the hitter to gather energy to jump.

As you plant your left foot, the outside of your

foot should be almost parallel to the net. This will allow for the shoulder to open up to the ball and for rotation of the hips and body for increased power on the spike. The foot position resembles that of a pigeon-toed person or a person snow-plowing on skis. It is important to plant your left foot behind the ball, or in other words keep the ball between your body and the net.

As you plant your left foot, your knees are bent deep enough to be able

to jump to extreme. If you bend your knees too much, it will break your movement and momentum. Conversely, if you don’t bend your knees enough you will not be able to use the strongest muscles to aid in your maximum jump.


The steps preceding the last two should be done naturally as if you were casually walking down the street. The most common approach used is a 4-step approach (middles more often use a 3step “left, right-left” but must also be comfortable with the 2-step).

For righties the 4-step

approach is right, left, right-left. Below we will breakdown the purpose of each of these steps. Right (Timing) – The purpose of this step is to take time to judge the direction and tempo of a set before beginning 3-step approach. This first right step is a very slow, small step used to get your body moving toward the ball that might be set in your direction. In order to take this first right step, it helps to start with the left foot slightly in front of the right.

The hitter begins to take this

first right step when the passer contacts the ball. The speed of this step is determined by how high the pass is. If the pass is very high this step will be extremely slow.

If the pass is flatter

(faster) the step will be taken at a faster pace. This right foot should be planted back on the ground when the ball touches the setter’s hands. This first step should be only about six inches in front of you.

Your body’s weight should now be primarily resting on your right foot.

Remember this is a slow tempo step. Left (Direction) - The direction or left step should not be taken until you see the general direction of the set.

Based off of this assessment, you will take your left step in the direction where you

think the set is going to go. The purpose of this step is to make sure the hitter’s body is lined up behind the ball in preparation for the last two steps.

The left step is taken with a medium tempo

speed. Right-left (Explode)- Where the first two steps are slow, the last two steps are very explosive. Refer to the description in the beginning for technique breakdown. Arm Movement- The arm movement during the spike approach should be relaxed.


simultaneously swinging both arms in an upward arc when jumping, you will increase your vertical jump while simultaneously getting your arms above your body for the arm-swing. Here is a step-by-step arm-swing sequence for the 4-step approach: Right (timing)- Arms relaxed at sides.


Left (timing)- During this step raise both forearms up in front of you so that your forearms and biceps form a 90-degree angle. Right (explode)- When you begin to take this step both arms should be thrown simultaneously in a parallel downward direction (to make sure your arm lift is parallel you can brush your sides going down and then again on the way up and try touching your thumbs together when arms are behind the body.

After the initial effort to throw the arms downward,

your arms momentum should swing them all the way behind your body.

When the right step is

planted both arms should be as far back behind your body as possible, completely parallel to the ground and to each other. If your biceps are touching your ribcage that is a good sign that you have a parallel double arm-lift. Left-Right (gather jump step) – During this last left step the arms should be thrown down again so that they have enough momentum to swing high up in front of your body.

By the time

they are in the upward arc in front of your body, your left foot should already be planted and you should be lifting off the ground for your jump. The upward arc of the double-arm lift will lend momentum to your jump. As the left arm swings above the front of your body it momentarily hangs in air pointing in the direction of where you want to contact the ball.

As the right arm rises up to shoulder

level, begin to draw the right elbow back as far as your body will permit (winding up). It is very important that after this point the right elbow does not drop below the right shoulder at any time. At this stage you should be in the bow-and-arrow position. We call this the bow-and-arrow position because it is like you are holding a shooting bow with your left arm and drawing back the arrow with your right arm. Now during the actual spiking motion we have you use your lat muscles to pull your left arm naturally downward towards your left side. This will lend some power to your spike and help raise your right hitting shoulder higher in the air. Simultaneously we have you begin rotating your right arm so that the elbow is moving forward while the right hand stays behind the body.


When your right elbow comes in front of your body then it is time to use your triceps muscle to snap on the ball with your hand. Your hand should be relaxed and open.

Your arm-swing

motion should also be fairly relaxed. As you snap on the ball contract your abdominal muscles for extra torque. The power of a spike comes when, just like a whip, your elbow locks out in front of your body and your whole momentum and arm-swing lends itself to a powerful snap on the ball. It is important to start your swing when the ball is on your way up. You need to start your swing when the ball is out of your reach. The swing should be initiated upward with your shoulder then your elbow follows. This is similar to throwing a pop-fly in soft ball.

As your

elbow is swung up, the hand (comfortably open) follows naturally. The heel of the hand hits behind and on top of the ball.

The fingers and wrist snap over the ball in the intended direction

of the spike. The final part of the swing is the follow-through. The hitter finishes her swing with her arm by or alongside her body in the intended direction of the path of the attack. The only exception to this is if the set is tight and the hitter has to follow through in or no follow through to avoid hitting the net.


Three Key Ideas For Basic Offenses Understanding three basic ideas can help young teams be more successful in their offenses and maximize their attempts. Offense, in volleyball, is the time that the ball is on your side of the net. A successful offense, however, begins with a mental checklist well before the ball ever comes to your side of the court. The ability to spike the ball over the net with regularity/consistency is a difficult task for even the best young athletes, so developing proper form and getting quality repetitions with flawless form should be the first offensive goal of any young team. Truly, the ability of the players on your team to consistently spike the ball over the net with topspin is the factor most likely to influence your team’s offensive success in competition. When it comes to competition, though, there are things that players and coaches can control to maximize their offensive attempts. First, be aggressive and get a big swing. With young teams it is important to challenge the defense and the block and not the sidelines. That is, most teams give away too many points by hitting the ball out of bounds. Most coaches and players temporarily remedy this situation (or so they think) by taking speed off of their spike attempts. This idea is fine if it is temporary (a couple of points, not a couple of games) but, ultimately, winning volleyball matches involves swinging away. Further, most teams have a certain range that the pass must land in and a certain range that the set must be in for the team to be able to spike the ball over the net. Constantly stretching that range and forcing players to jump and hit from anywhere can create more scoring opportunities for your team and set an aggressive tone. Also, have a “get-a-spike plan” for when the pass does not go to target (which, for even the best young teams, happens a lot). The ability to spike from off the net might cost some initial “learning points”, but the eventual rewards are worth a few aggressive hitting errors. The second key idea is to know the other team’s defense and develop the ability to hit somewhere other than deep angle. Most teams’ defenses are designed to take away the most likely hit in a given situation. The most common attack on a high outside set or


a high middle set (the most common sets in youth volleyball) is angle. Angle is the easiest hit to master for young players and therefore the most common. So, teams gear their defenses specifically to stop that type of attack. The ability to hit anywhere other than deep angle is key to being ahead of the curve offensively speaking. Some of the best athletes/teams are canceled out by their inability to either recognize what the other team is doing to try to stop them or their inability to hit the ball where they want (ideally the spot they need to for their team to get the kill). Hitting line at a young age is a great way to increase your team’s kills. True, hitting line takes a better set and more precise timing. The extra practice is worth it, though. Not only are teams less adept at digging this type of hit (they see far fewer line hits than angle hits), but young teams also may have a hard time transitioning when the ball is hit to right back because often their setter is the one digging the ball (creating, in theory, fewer options for their offense). Line hitting also goes hand in hand with the third idea of basic offense: think outside the box (literally and figuratively). Once hitters can hit the line, they can begin to get an idea of what tooling the block is all about. The ability to see kills in the block is key to success at higher levels, but even young players need to be aware of the block and ways they can use the block to create scoring opportunities. The most basic form of this theory is that if the block is on the hitter’s angle the hitter should hit line, and vice versa. But hitting high over the block and hitting off of the block are super important, too, and should be practiced just as much, if not more. The opportunities to use these skills arise much more in competition than hitters think; becoming adept at finding kills in the block can make an average team into a great hitting team. Hitters and teams that “get onto the other side of the net” (competitively speaking) and win the tactical aspect of the game will have their best chance to win the match even if they are less skilled than the team they are playing. Evolving with the game and “thinking outside the box” will help your team’s offense be successful over the long term.


Creating a Strong Quick Attack Teams with a strong quick attack can force match-up problems and create opportunities for easy points. Developing a consistent scoring threat through the use of the quick attack takes practice, teamwork and awareness. The payoffs can be great, though. Teams that “establish the quick/middle” force opposing middle blockers to commit their blocks to the quick hitter, exposing a single blocker on the outside sets. By forcing opposing middle blockers to choose whom your team is going to set, your hitters can get a big swing and a strong scoring opportunity. Each player has a responsibility that can make it easier to connect consistently on the quick. Here are four key ideas to consider when developing your team’s quick attack. First, setters need to establish their position. That is, if the setter is floating or drifting to the ball the connection becomes much more difficult. When the setter can get to the ball and stop or go straight up it is much easier to connect with your middles. If your setter can make this a habit the middles will be able to effectively gauge where they need to be to connect on their quick. Establishing your position is not always possible. Sort of like a scrambling quarterback, good setters can still make plays on the move if they use their vision. Setter eye checks are arguably the most important part of the connection. The ability to take your eye off of the ball and/or use your peripheral vision is key to a consistent quick connection. Middles make it their responsibility to get up on time (most middles are too late), in the right spot, but even the best middles have some variation in their timing and distance from the setter. Setters who can quickly judge these factors and make the necessary adjustments are the most effective in connecting with their middles. With practice, setters can time their eye checks to effectively make the ball “wait” in the air where their eyes leave it, eye check their middles, go back to the ball with their eyes, and make an informed decision on whether or not to set the quick using their peripheral vision. Often the execution of the skill of setting the quick is easy. The difficult part of setting the quick is perceiving where to set the ball to create the quick connection. Practicing your eye checks can make it easy to see where the set needs to be. Also, your vision is the key component in your decision making as a setter, so these eye checks are essential in becoming a true setter and not just someone who sets the ball. Quick hitters also need to do their part. Hitters should be in the air before the setter sets the ball. Hitters should approach towards the setter, jump, and prepare their arm to hit every single time the ball comes onto their side of the net. Many middles only jump when they are getting the set. This does not make sense when you understand that the setter wants to set the quick when the defense does not expect it. Being ready to hit every time is key in creating difficult choices for the opposing defense. Remember, the majority of the time the middle will not be set, but the best quick hitters make the defense


believe that the quick is being set almost every time. It’s a priceless feeling to fake the opposing middle out and see your teammate hammer the ball on an open net. Also, the best quick hitters have a way of scoring even on bad passes. The element of surprise is their friend. Know where to put the ball if you cannot get a big swing. Understanding the opposing team’s defense is key for this strategic advantage. Hitters should constantly be aware of (1) how many blockers they have up on them, (2) where the block is, (3) what type of floor defense the opposing team uses, (4) where its small blocker is and (5) anything else that might help them get a kill. Knowing what to do on each situation is key to maximizing your team’s offensive abilities. Intelligent practice can help your team create a consistent scoring threat from the quick and make it tough for the other team to stop you! Bombs away!


Developing A Killer Armswing I was recently helping a local HS program out. The head coach asked that I work with the team on their hitting. Since I don’t have a lot of time with her kids, she asked that I look for a lot of quick wins on things she can reinforce when I’m not around. So I spent a good deal of time fixing your basic bad approach habits and armswing problems and helping them build a basic offense for this season. However, what I’m going to share with you now had the biggest impact of any new technical tidbit that I’ve tried in a long time. Armswings take time to develop. You just can’t walk into a gym, take a kid with a poor armswing, and turn her into a whip-armed cannon attacker. If you even come close it is more luck than your skills as a coach. Much of the shoulder’s flexibility, movement and explosiveness have been learned through years of playing (or lack of playing) other sports and the techniques they have developed in volleyball. Since girls typically grow up playing sports that require throwing much less than guys, there are a large number of girls that struggle with the arm motion needed to crush a volleyball. This is why I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of helping female volleyball players become great attackers. So on to the tidbit I promised you. I was speaking to a coworker of mine not too long ago about my two kids and their baseball skills. He gave me a few things to do with them to improve their hitting fundamentals. I didn’t really ask him about throwing because I thought I could teach them that just fine on my own. However, he said that when he teaches kids to throw, the #1 most important thing he focuses on at an early age is for kids to turn their throwing hand palm-out before they begin their forward throwing motion. I mimicked that movement to myself and it all clicked instantly. Try it, as you are reading this article. Draw your arm back to throw keeping your palm (or the ball) facing forward the whole time. A lot of people throw like this. Now draw it back and before you start your forward throwing motion, focus on turning your wrist so the ball


(and your palm) is facing away from you. Think about what feels different between the two motions. Let’s go back to the clinic. I’m having the kids work on extension and arm mechanics while hitting a ball on one-bounce 30 feet to a partner. I’m dealing with your usual assortment of kids who hit at their ear level with a flying elbow, a couple of roundhouse armswingers, kids that drag through the ball instead of snapping high, and a couple of kids that just really have no armswings at all! So I asked each player to focus only on drawing their arm back with their hitting thumb pointed at the ground. I demonstratedd and sent them off. Instantly, I noticed that the roundhousers corrected into almost perfect armswings. They simply couldn’t roundhouse with their thumb pointed down on the drawback. And almost every kid who was struggling to hit high was reaching much higher! Even the kids who had horrible armswings were looking better. Why did this simple suggestion carry so much weight? We teach kids armswings in all different manners. My coach used to have us scratch draw by having us scratch the back of our necks with our elbow at our head. Well, the problem with that was that I didn’t learn shoulder rotation when I hit until college. Oh, my back suffered through that technique as well, as I almost 100% of my back-whip for power. Most coaches I know will also use the term bow-and-arrow quite a bit when teaching. Look in any beginner volleyball book and you’ll see references to it, with pictures alongside the explanations. But, I think there is a problem with bow-and-arrow explanations. Think about how an archer draws an arrow back. They draw the elbow back in line with their right eye (if they are drawing back right-handed). Their elbow is not in an ideally high position, as a volleyball player’s elbow should be. And more importantly, their palm is turned toward them and not EVER facing away. Now, this is a little nitpicky and coaches might initially get defensive at this point in the article (hey, we pretty much all used this explanation at some point in our coaching careers) but think about it. Let’s not create an easily-identifiable visual for these kids that is wrong. I suggest that we throw-out the bow and arrow armswing technique altogether.


Instead, let’s simply ask kids to draw their arm back with their thumb pointed at the ground. Why not tell them anything about their elbow? Well, because the elbow is a natural part of drawing back with the thumb-down. In fact, it is uncomfortable to have a low elbow while doing this. I love getting kids to do things the right way by having them focus completely on something else other than what it is I want them to do. Sometimes you beat down on them so hard to fix that elbow and they just don’t get it. But you have them focus on something else that naturally puts their elbow in a good fundamental position and voila! I’ve helped kids with their armswings in many different ways over the years. Some get it quickly, some take months. But in the end, being a better coach and learning new ways to teach the same thing better, is really what makes the difference. Give it a try at your next practice and let me know how it goes. Even make it fun and try to name this. Call it the "reverse-Fonzie technique." Have them make a fist with a thumb and flip it upside down as they draw back. Of course kids today don’t even know who Fonzie is, do they?


Finding The Kill

The best offensive players in volleyball are those who are able to consistently find a way to get kills for their team while making very few (a relative term) errors. As simple as this statement sounds there are many factors involved in becoming a big-time kill finder. In this article I will outline four ideas that can help any hitter find more kills for their team. Develop a strong foundation of skills. A great armswing that allows the hitter to hit the ball very hard and as high as possible, with as much topspin as possible, is absolutely essential to becoming a ball-killer. Many players neglect focus on their armswing and think that if they just jump high they will be able to get lots of kills. An imperfect armswing can also minimize hitting power, increase the likelihood of injury, and limit a player’s ability to make certain plays in the air. Also, hitters need to develop an arsenal of shots that they can use to get out of trouble situations or find a kill. Many players only practice hitting angle as hard as they can. This may be a great shot sometimes, but turns, shots, and tools are also important for hitters who want to make the most out of every situation. Developing these skills before you get to competition can greatly increase your chances of getting kills. Second, be as physical as possible. The best hitters jump really, really high and hit really, really hard. Working hard to improve these areas can greatly increase a player’s ability to kill the ball. But, let’s face it, not all volleyball players are going to be able to jump as high as others. The best thing a player can do to increase your chance for more kills now is to engage your physicality as a player and try to be as athletic as possible on every play. Many players underestimate the value of being physical simply because they are not the best athlete on the floor. Being relentlessly athletic and physical is a great way to get more points. In addition, being aggressive to the ball helps the hitter get a better relationship to the ball in the air, which creates more options and allows for more opportunities to do something with the ball. Taking pride in being a player who does not take plays off is a great way to make a name for yourself and your team. More “lucky breaks” go to the more aggressive team. Every time you spike the ball over the net should be with a max jump. Sure, there are times in a match that you really cannot take a big jump to the ball (a horrible set, etc.), but the best hitters go up hard on every set to keep the defenders back, creating a greater likelihood of their shots working. Also, hit hard. Swing away. Go for it. I’m sure all of the best hitters in the world can remember some of their worst hits that went flying out the back of the court by some ridiculous distance. Some players simply never take a big swing for fear of hitting the ball out, but the only way to learn how to control your big swings is to take them. The harder the hit the less time the defense has to react; a simple formula for more kills. Hitting hard at the top of the swing is another factor that separates many of the best hitters from the pack. Lots of hitters can hit hard and low to the net (in the “easy for the team to block” zone), but the best hitters hit hard and high, with their ball crossing very high over the top of net.


Finally, big-time hitters know the opposing team’s defense and what they are going to try to do to stop them. This, too, sounds, simple, but often players limit their ability to get kills not due to the quality of the spike itself, but due to the quality of their choices. For example, that straight down angle hit that every hitter loves is simply not going to work if you have a block in front of you. Good teams put up a solid block and play solid defense, so if a hitter continually makes poor choices, eventually even the best attacks will be stopped. Awareness of the opposing team’s strategy is critical to getting kills because the best hitters are continually trying to be one step ahead of the other team. A big-time hitter should constantly be searching for an advantage. A great hitter might say to him/herself: “I saw this team warming up, they do perimeter defense, they swing block mostly angle, they have one huge middle, and a shorter setter” or “This team likes to drop into the angle when they only have one blocker up” or “I think I can get my line this next play”. The point is: an intentionless attempt is a wasted opportunity. Where is the kill? Keep working to find the answer to this question, vary your attack, take some speed off of the ball, hit the sides of the court, tool the block, tip, set your blocker up, show the defense one thing then do the other, hit off the top of the block, use all of your options and remember: KILL, KILL, KILL.


The Dink The dink is a soft shot that is used to catch the defense off-guard. It is used most effectively on a good set when the defense is expecting a hard-driven hit. The attacker should cock his hitting arm in the normal manner and swing at a reduced speed to contact the ball with his fingertips. Contact is usually attempted as high above the net as possible so that the ball can be tipped over the block. All hitters should master the technique of dinking over the middle blocker. It keeps the defense honest and prevents it from always being in position to dig hard driven hits. The hitter who is skilled in varying his attack is most effective. Shorter attackers may attempt to dink the ball into a tall blocker's forearms in the hope that the ball will roll down the opponent's body on the opposition's side of the net. When the low dink is attempted against a low block, the ball is usually stuffed to the floor. When three blockers are defending against a attacker, there is a lot of court open for a well-placed dink shot. -Al Scates


The Defensive Dig By Sue Gozansky

1.Starting Ready Position A. Feet shoulder distance apart, weight on insides of feet, toes and knees turned in slightly B. Low center of gravity with forward body lean (lower ready position than for a pass). Knees in front of toes. C. Feet turned into the court, shoulders facing the attacker. D. Hands held comfortably out from the body, elbows bent, hands over knees, hands tight and alert for quick movement in any direction. E. The closer you are to the attacker the greater the knee bend, and the higher the hands are held in the initial ready position. It is quicker to move the hands from shoulders to knees than in the reverse. F. Weight equally distributed on both feet until the exact direction of the ball is determined. The ready position must allow mobility in all directions. 2.Tactics: See and think; read and adjust A. Review capabilities and tendencies of frontcourt attackers. B. Watch and read pass. C. Watch and read set 1.Type of set-high (low, good or bad) 2.Position of the ball (a.) Distance from the net. (b.) Inside or outside antennae. (c.) What does the set allow the attacker to do? (d.) Watch and read the attacker 1. Body position, angle of approach. 2. Body rotation in air, shoulders and arm swing. 3. Palm reading. 4. Contact point 5. Line up with attacker belly button to belly button, shoulder to shoulder. 6. Watch and read block position and capabilities. 7. Anticipate the attack direction and move to the correct position prior to the attack.


8. On attack contact, face point of attack and lean forward ready to move diagonally forward toward the ball. 9. Reach hands out to the ball, playing ball with two hands. 10. Dig ball up, not out. Hips move forward on contact, body leans slightly back. Curl arms and scoop ball with both hands to keep ball on your side of the net. 11. To play high balls and/or balls to the side, turn arm and shoulders so ball is channeled into the court. Bend elbows slightly, outside shoulder higher, and weight on the outside leg. 12. Position body and arms to face setting target by dropping shoulder closest to target and raising opposing shoulder and hip. 13. No arm swing on hard hit balls, controlled arm swing to target on soft attacks.



Hut Perimeter










Three Base (help right)


Red/Back Slide Rotation








Hut Rotation

Two Base








Bic/One Base

Red/Back Slide Rotation

Three Base (help right)

Two Base

Hut Rotation


Blocking Blocking is the attempt by one, two or three players to stop an attack at the net and deflect it down into the attacker’s court. All blocks are timed to the attack of the opponent. Touch blocks or controlled deflections into the player’s own court can be converted to good passes and lead to an effective attack to score points. The block is the first line of defense in volleyball. The player should stiffen the hands and arms just before contact to stop hard hit balls. The thumbs should be about six inches apart so that the ball will not go through the hands. Blockers must keep their eyes open to see the hitters when the contact the ball. As blockers reach forward to block, they should see the backs of their hands as they penetrate across the net. The player should be about one-half arm’s length from the net. The blocker must time the jump for the block to the attacker’s approach and jump. The general rule of thumb is to jump to block a split second after the attacker takes off to spike or at the same time as the hitter jumps for a hitter with a fast arm swing. The player should shoot the hands and arms over the top of the net after clearing the top of the net. The longer the player can keep the hands over the net the better the chances of blocking the spiked ball. As the player reaches the top of the jump, the arms should be straight and stiff to stop hard-hit spikes. As the player descends to the floor, he or she should pull the arms and the hands back across the net and land on both legs to be ready for the next contact. When landing, the blocker should be turning to follow the flight of the ball. She will then be able to track the flight of the ball as she transitions off the net to prepare to hit. Land and step away from the net with balance and speed. FOOTWORK SKILLS -Slide two-step. The slide step to the right is a step to the right with the right foot and then closing step with the left foot. The player starts in a slight crouch with the hands above the head and elbows at or slightly above the shoulders in front of the body. The slide-two-step block is the easiest to learn. Blockers use it when they need to move only a few feet to get in front of the attacker. CROSSOVER STEPS Blockers use crossover steps to move longer distances along the net to get in position to block. Crossover steps are faster than a side step. Crossover two-steps. Starting in a balanced position near the net, the player turns the hips in the direction of movement to make the block. Moving to the right, the player pivots on the right foot while crossing the left foot over in front of the body to take a large step to the right. The player lands on


the left foot first, pivots on the left foot while turning the body back toward the net, and lands on the right foot. Use opposite footwork to go to the left. THREE-STEP BLOCK The 3-step block is used by middle blockers to block the right and left side attackers and by smaller end blocker to gain momentum to block on the right and left side. For the 3step take a very large step with the outside foot in the direction of intended approach, then proceed with crossover footwork. NOTE: Middle blockers should direct the first step with the outside foot away from the net and behind the end blocker so as to avoid stepping on the end blockers foot. TWO AND THREE PERSON BLOCKS In two person blocks, the players should time their jumps so that they reach forward over the net together to make a solid wall of hands and arms. The outside hands should be turned in slightly to direct the spiked ball back into the opponent’s court. The phrase “setting the block” refers to the end blocker lining up her block to allow the middle blocker to close the block and the defense to place themselves in the areas of the court the block in not taking away. The two basic ways of setting the block are, giving line and taking line. Verbal cues can be helpful in timing two or three person blocks. For example the blockers can say “1-2-3” or “Ready-set-jump.” Blockers’ hands should be facing towards the middle back of the opponents court. Stopping the one-foot takeoff attack. The left front blocker is responsible for stopping the one-foot back slide attacks. This blocker must be able to move along the net and reach over the net very quickly. You may try blocking the one-foot attacker with a onefoot block approach. Simply stay in front of the hitter and jump and penetrate when the hitter jumps to hit. STUFF BLOCK To stuff the ball, the blocker reaches over the net as far as possible to block the ball down on the attacker’s side of the net. Players using this technique must be tall or have good jumping ability. They must be able to jump high enough to press their hands and forearms over the net. The player who can also get the elbows over the net will score more points blocking. SOFT BLOCKS Shorter players can often block effectively by using the soft-blocking technique. If an apposing spiker is constantly hitting the ball over a player, that player should use the soft block. This block will make it more difficult for the attacker to hit over a shorter blocker’s hands. The player tilts the hands slightly back at the wrists to deflect the ball up in the air into the player’s own court. The technique is like an overhand dig. The blocker uses the palms and fingers to slow the ball down and make it easier for teammates to pass for a counterattack. READ BLOCKING EYE SEQUENCE: Ball-Setter-Ball-Hitter


Ball: Watch the flight of the ball as it is passed up to the setter. Setter: Focus on the ball as the setter releases it from her hands. Ball: Watch the flight of the ball and move quickly to get in front of the attacker and jump to block Hitter: Switch your focus to the hitter as you get ready to jump and block. The sooner you see the hitter the better. Watch the hitter’s angle of approach, shoulder turn, and arm motion. Make adjustments based on these factors. When read blocking raise hands up well above the head on a good pass to prepare to tap block against a quick set in the middle. Middle blockers and help left side blocker must first track the opponent’s middle blocker and front her before worrying about blocking on the outside. Based upon hitters’ strengths/weakness and setters tendencies, each blocker should be focused upon stopping the other teams primary attacker and reacting if the setter sets another attacker. ONE-ON-ONE BLOKCING The best blockers know how to get stuff blocks and touches when they are one-on-one against an attacker. The best way to start to block one-on-one is to be far enough to the sideline to block the attacker’s line shot. The player then takes a quick step to the center and reaches in to block the crosscourt power hit. Great blockers have the mental skill of being able to keep track of the attacker’s tendencies in certain situations. For example, if an attacker has been turning back to hit line often, the blocker should stay wide and take that hit away.

COMMIT BLOCKING A tough game situation for blockers at the college level occurs when the other team is passing well and the setter is scoring by setting the quick attack most of the time. Read blocking may be ineffective against a hot quick hitter. In this situation a team must commit a blocker to stop it or get a touch. Commit blocks offer a way to stop the opponent’s quick hitter. The blocker starts as if she is going to read block. Instead of reading, the blocker takes the quick hitter as his or her only hitter. The blocker gets in front of the quick hitter’s approach and takes a big, early jump, trying to get over the net before the hitter attacks. The blocker reaches over the net and takes away the hitter’s best hit. This should result in some stuff blocks and the setter to start setting other options. HYBRID BLOCKING SYSTEM We usually use a hybrid of read blocking and commit blocking against teams with a weak right side attack (almost all the teams we play have a weak right side attack). To take advantage of the weak right side attack and the front row setter, we have our left-side blocker bunch in the middle and block the middle quick-hit or two-ball attack. If the front-row-setter is capable of dumping the ball the left-side blocker must also be ready to block the setter-dump.


SHORT BLOCKERS Shorter blockers should try to develop the swing-block approach-jump technique. If fact we have almost all of our player use the swing-block technique to maximize their blocking ability. Players who still cannot get their hands over the net cannot be effective blockers. These players should learn to cover tips and dig angles rather than attempt to block. The remaining two blockers must be sure to place themselves in front of the other teams best hitter and leave their weakest hitter unblocked. SWITCHING BLOCKING POSITIONS Teams can switch the front-row blockers to different positions to make it difficult for opponent’s setter to keep track of where the shortest blocker is. The shortest blocker should become skillful at faking the direction of movement to confuse the opponent’s setter. Players are specialized to block primarily in one position, but good blockers are comfortable blocking wherever the opponent’s best hitter is. KEY WORDS AND PHRASES ~See the backs of your hands when you reach forward to block. ~Face your hands to the middle of the court to block the ball into the center of the court. ~Press over the net before the hitter swings. ~Keep your hands strong to block the ball into the center of the court. ~Follow the ball with your eyes. ~Balance is the key to read blocking effectively. ~Balance is important while you are jumping in the air to block over the net. ~Read the setter while staying balanced and ready to move to follow the ball. ~Move like a big cat, agile, mobile and hostile to the attack. ~Land like a cat and you will save your knees and avoid errors. BLOCKING LOW SETS AND SETS OFF THE NET On sets more than two meters away from the net and on high sets that have allowed three blockers to form a solid block, it is important to form the block low and over the net to avoid being a target for ball hit far out of bounds. If a hitter contacts the ball below the plain of the net (happens when hitter drops elbow below their shoulder or on bad set) the blockers should drop their hands and not block. It is important that when blockers do this they yell to their back-row players and communicate that they are not going to block so that the defenders can come forward to cover the vulnerable part of the court. ONE-HAND BLOCKS AND V-BLOCKS When blocking each hand should move independent of the other. Unless taking the line, end blockers should line up to block on the outside with one hand on the ball and the other hand dropping into the angle hit. Middle blockers blocking on the ends should place outside hand to close the seam and the inside hand should also be dropping into the angle. Middle blockers may sometimes use a v block with both hands split apart to blocker hitters who like to hit away from the block. Two hand moves can be effective in the middle when utilizing the “show and take” strategy.


SHOW AND TAKE One of my favorite techniques for blocking is the show angle or line as the hitter looks at the block and then take it away at the last second. For example I would start as if I was going to block line giving away the crosscourt angle hit. Then I would take away the crosscourt by jumping into the angle and blocking the angle. THE BATTLE BETWEEN HITTERS AND BLOCKERS Hitters have the advantage against blockers when there is a good pass and set. Often there is only one blocker and that gives a hitter a lot of open court to aim at. Great blockers still score in these situations by using strategy and knowing the setter’s and hitter’s tendencies. The blocker who blocks a hitter in one-on-one blocking situations puts a lot of pressure on a hitter. I have seen hitters mentally break down after being stuffed one on one. The blocker can also break down by making nets, foot faults or blocking the ball out of bounds often. The blocker that nets when the hitter makes an error or is dug up by a teammate feels just awful. Trust in your teammates.


Closing the Block

Establishing a solid “closed” block can make it much more difficult for hitters to get a kill and frustrate even the best hitters into mistakes. A closed block is when all of the blockers that are assigned to block on an opposing hitter jump at the same time, very close together, with good timing, so that the ball cannot go between them. Ideally, their block is solid so that any balls that they touch on the block are deflected back into their opponent’s court. Balls that make it around the block are to the outside of the court so that your team’s back row defense can line up around the outside of the block. Not only is it much more difficult to hit to the smaller area of the court, but establishing a solid block can make hitters try to avoid the block too much and make errors. Putting up a solid, closed block is important, but how do you actually close the block? There are three main points to consider when thinking about closing the block. First, think like a volleyball player! Often players do not consider competitive factors like who the other team is likely to set and why. Many players play each play as if all three hitters have even ability and likelihood of getting the set. Of course, this is not actually the case on the majority of plays. Think about this: on your team, are there certain plays and sets that you like to run more than others, certain rotations where you feel more confident that you will get the set? Of course there are. The best blockers can identify these conditions sooner than others and make the adjustments necessary to stop them. Second, reading is fundamental. The best blockers in the world are the best at reading the situation and making the correct response. You cannot read without taking your eyes off of the ball. Players must perfect their eye sequence in order to maximize their ability to tell what is going to happen next. By predicting what is going to happen next you can cut down on precious time when traveling to make a play. Finally, perfect your physical factors. Control what you can control. The best blockers in the world are absolutely huge. They jump and press over the net by several


feet. Not everyone has the natural ability to be able to do that, but everyone can learn from these blockers to be aggressive. B-E- aggressive. It is nearly impossible to block a ball in a game without being aggressive. So, be as physical as possible on every play and learn to control the factors that you can control, like developing great timing on your block, great hand position, and great block positioning. All of these factors will help you make it more difficult for the opposing hitters to get a kill. Here are three more points to consider to help your team close the block. First, it is the responsibility of the whole team to help close the block. Back row players can focus on factors that will help their middles close the block. Calling these reads out gives their middles more information to work with when determining who is going to get the set. Good positioning by the wing blocker on the angle can help force hitters to hit more extreme angles and force them into mistakes.

In addition, help your middle blockers

know where to set up by having your wing blockers call whether the hitter is coming inside, outside, or right at the wing blocker. Once players can regularly form a solid block with good timing they can learn to drop their hands along the net into angles and take away more of a certain portion of the court. Wing blockers can block the seam by dropping their hands in, too. Most blockers go straight up, making it easy for hitters to judge how far into the angle that they need to hit the ball. If your wing blockers can drop their hands in, your team can create a lot more stops in the angle. Showing an angle then taking it away can be a powerful blocking strategy. Also, leave early. It is essential to remember that as a middle blocker you should leave to where the set is going to as soon as you identify what is going to happen. Sometimes you know where the ball is going to be set sooner than others. By identifying the opposing team’s tendencies middle blockers can leave a little bit sooner to the hitter that is going to get the set and save precious time closing the block. As soon as you know, put your eyes on her and go as fast as you can to that hitter. Inexperienced middles wait for the set to be made before they close the block. Sometimes this tactic is needed because you are not sure who is going to get the set. An example of this type of situation would be when the opposing team has three evenly talented attackers in positions where they are equally capable, and a pass with which their setter could set any


of the hitters effectively. Typically, though, this is not the case. Using your reading and predicting skills can lead you to make reactions that will help your team shut down even the most sophisticated offensive schemes. Finally, perfect your footwork. As a middle blocker you need a number of different ways to close the block. Shuffling, two- and three-step blocking footwork patterns, and running are all used throughout the game to help in various situations. These patterns need to be practiced until they are second nature. If these skills are not polished, players will find themselves reaching, netting, and generally not enjoying the joys of roofing the other team’s best attacks. Perfecting your footwork can help you cut valuable time off of your movement to block and help you make a solid, established block that your team can play defense behind. Think. Read. React. Roof!



Indeed, there are millions of people who enjoy volleyball at the basic level. But even the casual observer will notice how the game favors those who deploy even basic tactics and team strategies. This is the point where the game changes most: when the smart can defeat the strong. At its core, volleyball is restricted by earth’s laws of physics. Every player, from playground novice to Olympic champion, requires gravity to draw the ball to the floor. Velocity, inertia and energy define the limits. The game favors the mathematically inclined, who understand geometry and probability. All the science boils down to one simple and irrefutable law of volleyball: every core skill of the game can be performed better by a player in the proper position. Every extra reach, shift and adjustment reduces your efficiency. Add this perspective: one genie, one bottle and three wishes. After your new iPhone and the plasma TV come the really hard choices. Would you prefer 3 more inches of vertical or the ability always to know where the ball is going next? The gift of premonition sure makes blocking easier, not to mention serve receive. Setting becomes a lot less dicey if you always know where the pass is going. Such prognostication is often referred to as a player’s volleyball IQ (VBIQ). For most, the VBIQ matures at a different pace than most physical skills, in part because it is solely acquired over many years of watching random plays unfold. The patterns and tendencies can be so subtle that one would have to witness hundreds of attempts to recognize a repeating pattern. In many cases, the progress is slowed because the player is not actively looking for these kinds of clues. The active discovery process does not begin without some moment of epiphany – that point when a player realizes, “I need to pay attention because this stuff is important.” I believe that moment should be emphasized by volleyball coaches at a very early stage of player development. Clearly, the effects of physical skills are greatly enhanced when


combined with an elevated VBIQ. So train VBIQ right along with the physical skills. It adds relevance and heightens awareness. For example, when teaching a player to serve, we give a lot of attention to the toss. “You must toss the ball to this spot every time.” Now extend the lesson. “When your toss drifts too far to center, what happens? Your serve goes left.” “When your toss gets too low, what happens? The serve flattens out.” Transfer this knowledge directly into serve receive training. As a defender, watch the server’s toss. If the point of contact moves, you now have a better idea of how to adjust. Your VBIQ gets you closer to the ball before your feet are even engaged. There is an abundance of resources dedicated to the physical training of volleyball athletes. One is hard-pressed to find training aids for VBIQ. On-the-job training is the best most players can hope for. So what can you do to pull your team ahead of the VBIQ learning curve? Many of our tried and true practice drills can easily be adapted to VBIQ drills. Simply change the focus to observing the visual clues. It may sound remarkably counter-intuitive, but we must first reduce our focus on the ball. The flight of the ball tells the story of where the ball has been. There are many more revealing clues that better predict the future. Remember, the value of VBIQ comes from knowing what will come next while others simply respond to what has happened. One common trait of the VBIQ elite is the ability to bring into focus the player who will play the next ball. Once the ball is in motion, there is little to be gained from watching its flight. Nothing will change its course and speed, which makes its destination quite predictable. The next player in the series can tell you a lot more about the future. Is this player in a good position to play this next touch? If the player has arrived to her position early and is displaying a calm and confident demeanor, that player probably has a wider array of options open to her. Most players give some kind of tell. Those who have a high VBIQ are constantly trying to figure out what those tells are and capitalize on them. One of the unique challenges of VBIQ training is the lack of metrics. How can a coach tell that the player was actually watching and processing the correct information? The most effective way is to ask the player to verbalize her thought processes as they occur. Ask the player to do a live play-by-play while the action is underway and listen to what is being said. You can quickly tell if both the focus and interpretation are accurate. If you have video tape equipment, position the 45

players next to the microphone. You can later replay the moment, along with the player’s commentary, for review. Another significant benefit of practicing verbalization is how well it translates into game-time court talk. A high VBIQ player can become an effective court leader whose voice guides the rest of the team. Others will learn to recognize for themselves the same clues your VBIQ leader is describing. One active mind connected to a loud, clear voice can produce far more VBIQ training than many hours of drills. Focus your attention on the things that are in your control. VBIQ training has a far better chance of improving our game than trying to grow. Instead of trying to grow, try a little training for the brain. By Larry Smith


Training without a net or Friend What if you have no friends or net? When this situation occurs, you need not take up solitaire, but you need to watch out that you do not teach yourself “bad”, non-game-like habits or reactions. Sure you can bump the ball to yourself but would you ever do that in a game? Not a likely desired action, as you most often send the ball to a teammate or an opponent. So what can you do? 1. Serve against the wall. Mark a line at the height you play and stand back 9 meters or more and go through your routine, serving over the line. It is most important that you have the skill of always serving over the net, even if you sometimes serve out. Go through your whole routine, and imagine each time that you are in a pressure situation and visualize your successful, tough serve. Remember to serve, even against a wall, from all areas of the end-line, not just the traditional zone one/right back area. 2. Serve and dash. Most people forget that the whole skill of serving really includes dashing to their backline defensive area. For those defending left back, and choosing to serve from right back, that is a good 8 meter or more sprint. As you run you should be watching the ball - run and watch, not watch then run - to determine what small adjustment you should make on the next contact to better float, or topspin powerfully, the serve. 3. Pass into a corner. With the corner in front of you and to your right, throw a ball off the wall in front of you so it rebounds back as if it were being served near or at you. Move to the ball, and pass it with “settable” ball flight into the corner, as if to the setter. Get the ball and do it again. 4. Front set into a corner. Throw the ball off the wall to your left side, 90 degrees or so, so that it rebounds back at you as if it were coming in from a passer. You can work on low passes that you need to scoot under, higher passes that you could even jump set, or angled standard ball flight passes that you might need to move to. Get in position and set any kind of set you want to the front. Gather in the ball off the front wall and throw it again, and again. 5. Backset into a corner. Same as in front setting, but stand with the wall behind you and to your left, and backset the ball behind you. Turn and gather the ball up and throw it off the wall to your left again, and again. For setting lower sets, like a meter ball, stand with you back closer to the back wall, any distance from the wall to your left. The farther from the left wall, the more time you’ll have to react to the incoming pass. 6. Spike against the FAR AWAY wall. Most players all already good at hitting overpasses into the net, that same skill developed in pepper where the ball comes at you and you blast it down in


a rhythm. STOP! Stand 9 or more meters from a wall and set the ball up to yourself and hit it with a game-like ball flight over the “net” (that is not there), not into it or into the feet of the blockers. You can’t really get into the Kaboom, Kaboom rhythm found in the non- game-like ball flight wall hitting, but you can learn an arm-swing that will be of value. If there is no block, you will zing into pounding the ball down, but that is a rare situation. You need to learn to hit AROUND the block and OVER the net and OVER the block. Set yourself 1 meter sets and high balls. Hit cross court, cut, and line shots to the wall. If you can hit the floor/wall corner, you can hit the back line “coffin corner,” a tough shot to defend. 7. Tip or Spiker Coverage. – Every garage seems to have a basketball hoop. What every slanted roof, above a garage or not, can be is a fun training device to practice digging the ball UP, off of a tip or “blocked spike.” Alone, you just throw the ball up on the roof, then run to near the roofline and when the balls rolls off, you play it up, as if it were a tip – or even as if you were in spiker coverage. Play it up high, so the setter would have time to move in, or so the hitter is given the time needed to back up and hit again. You can play it into a trash can – the setter, and give yourself points for each ball canned. (This is a good partner game) 8. Juggle. Like a soccer or hacky-sack player, learn to rebound the volleyball off your head, thighs or knees - legal worldwide since the end of the 1992 Olympics, shoulder, bent elbow or “J” stroked arms. Learn to hit the ball cleanly, not with a lift. While you’re at it, compete. See how many in row you can do without an error - and you define what an “error” is. How many seconds or minutes can you train without a mistake. Another option is to see how long you can go without making TWO errors in a row. Most of us will make mistakes. The best players bounce back and correct their errors on the next contact, or better the ball that comes to them from the prior contact. Well, Do I Have One Friend? Congratulations. Now, let’s see if we can convince you to change what most partners will want to do with you – traditional “pepper” Why? Well, first let’s look at what traditional “pepper” does teach you. Let’s say you and your partner train SO hard, you become the “World’s Best” at this drill that so many do around the world. So what are you two the world’s best at?... Saying “sorry” when you do not hit right at a player – (You want to be the world’s best at celebrating a kill, hitting the space, not right at a player - How often after hitting do you lean under the net and say “Sorry” to the opponents?) Stopping your armswing, so you do not blast the ball at your teammate. (You want to be the world’s best at hitting fast and hard, by letting your arm swing fully, not stopping it above you head or almost “serving” it?) Digging back to the attacker who spiked at you – so they can hit at you again. (You want to be the best in the world at digging IN FRONT of the attacker, never skilled at digging back to them.) Digging straight back (You want to be the best in the world at digging the angle needed to the


setter, not straight back like some wall drill.) Hitting down at an angle that would go into the net or blockers (You want to be the world’s best at the habit of making good misses – over the net, rather than bad misses, into the net/block.) Hitting everything the way you are facing (You want to be the world’s best at hitting all the many angles of the game, especially the more deceptive cut and line shots – take this quote about 1968 great Olympian Jon Stanley to heart, from a Russian scouting report – “Never hits where he looks; always hits where you aren’t; unstoppable”.) Hitting balls coming at you, - (You want to be the world’s best at hitting sets that fall from the sky/side, to one side or the other as they come in, not overpasses, which are so rare.) Moving less and less – becoming one of the best at not even having to move – as you see in those who have peppered for years, you could nail their feet to the floor! (You want to be the best in the world at moving, more and more, extending your range, moving with ball control further and further, moving forward and backwards, covering tips, dumps and all shots from the optimum position at the time.) Hitting short distances (You want to be the best at the world at having hitting skill and control at the distances of down the line – about 9 meters, and diagonal – over 12 meters as these are the distances you really hit in the game.) Hitting with no block confronting you (You want to be the best in the world at hitting over, around, off and even through a block – as there will be one there 99% of the time you spike.) Reading balls coming from someone standing in front of the net. (You want to be the world’s best at reading a hitter from approach, to jump, to spiking over the net against a block.) Sometimes I think that 2-person pepper teaches players to simply move very little while hitting over-passes straight down into the net – not a great skill to be good at... In any case, one of the first things you MUST do is spread out your pepper. Do NOT go net to endline, if you are with just one pal (you have the whole court or court-like space right?). Go CORNER TO CORNER so you are hitting longer, more game-like ball flight. This is especially true for those of you wise enough to be playing doubles any time you can - you warm up with your partner corner to corner. 1. Dig to yourself pepper. Every great defender digs the ball right up to the setter. What you need to do is give yourself a cushion, an area of imperfection that still helps your teammates. I call this a good” mistake, rather than a “bad” one. While it is not as gamelike as digging to a setter, you are training with only one friend. If he or she is the bad guy, the hitter, you CAN’T DIG RIGHT BACK TO HIM/HER! You certainly should not dig over the net. What would make you known as a real great digger, would be to simply dig every ball you can touch—STRAIGHT UP! You should start about 4-5 meters from your teammate, and move back to 7-9 meters away after you set the ball. This lets your hitter spike a more game-like ball flight,


and gives you more time to react to the hit. It also teaches you better to move forwards and backwards, something a good defender does well. 2. Alternating pepper. Similar to dig to yourself, but the goal is to dig back towards, but NEVER ALL THE WAY BACK TO the hitter, who sets to the digger, who then becomes the hitter. Both players thus are moving forward after hitting to set the dug ball, and then scooting back after setting a high ball that gives them enough time to distance themselves for the dig from the hitter. You thus hit, then set, and then dig, before the cycle starts again. How many in a row can you and your friend do? You can even do this OVER a net or rope... 3. Setting corner off of passes. As in the corner games to do alone shown above, with a teammate, you can have that person pass to you from all over an imaginary court, while you move to the ball and set it to the front or behind you. You start it, so that your teammate must move and pass it to you for your set, not throw it. How many times do you get to throw the ball in the game to the setter. Since the answer it never, practice passing to the setter, not throwing. Then get the set ball and throw for a pass to react to again and again. 4. Play one-on-one over a net/rope. You do not need a net, but you do need to play OVER some obstacle at about net height. I had a friend who had a shortage of nets in a small nation, who successfully played over the soccer goal crossbars. Shrink the court down, make it 3 meters deep by any width and play. While it is not perfectly game-like, as you do not get to hit it to yourself in the game, hey, you are a one person team! Go for three hits. Learn to use the net as a teammate to recover certain tough digs and give you time to get to the ball to set yourself Be sneaky, and hit any way BUT the way you are facing. In these games, the loser buys the winner ice cream. Serve with a roll shot or an openhanded tip, do not toss it in. Serve anywhere along the backline of your mini-court. Actually, Two Friends Works 1. Play triple pepper. This can be played without a net, or over a net. If you have no net, make sure you are hitting the ball to the digger with a ball flight that would have cleared the net if it was there! The setter stands halfway between the two digger/hitters, to one or both sides. By both sides I mean that the setter moves back and forth so that both diggers are digging to the same angle. If the setter/digging target stands only to one side, in the example to the right of one hitter/digger, the other hitter/digger will thus be practicing digging to the left. The hitters need to hit the full 9-15 meters to the digger. You can have one person do all the digging and the other all the hitting, or you can randomize more by having them alternate. With a net, the setter should duck back and forth under the net, so the diggers never dig over the net. Watch to make sure the hitters stay 9-15 meters apart, as time goes on in this one, you’ll find the distance shrinks to about 5-6 meters, the classic pair pepper hitting distance everyone is comfortable with! 2. Set in a triangle. Work on back-setting with the ball moving around clockwise and one of the three of you back-setting while the other two overhead pass. If the ball is going counter clockwise, all three of you should be front-setting. 3. Receive serves over a net. Pass them to your third friend that catches the ball at the setter target zone. Score yourself for accuracy, by giving the server a point if the setter target has


to move more than one step, and giving the passer the point for a serving error or if the setter moves one step or less. 4. Hit vs. a block – Your partner throws to you, so you must pass, then he/she sets you, always against a block. Too few kids know how to hit around a block. WOULD YOU BELIEVE THREE FRIENDS? Now you can really train.., just DOUBLES, indoors or outdoors, on hard court, on Wallyball courts (great, as you need not chase the ball as much!) sand, grass or whatever. Work on your weaknesses, not the things you are already good at. Keep track of who wins as you change partners, and know that that person is likely the best player overall. Challenge yourself and HAVE FUN! -John Kessel, USA Volleyball


Volleyball Slang

Ace: When the ball is served to the other team, and it lands in the court with no one touching it; can also be used to refer to a serve that is played by the receiving team, but in a way that it is not possible to get a second touch on the ball. Bomb: Hard driven ball, as in "she's serving bombs" . Bump: Similar in motion to a pass, but used to set a ball for an attack. Chizzy: When the attacking player hits a ball off the outside hand of the blocking player and the ball deflects out of bounds. Chicken Wing: When a defending player is forced to react very quickly to a ball coming at their upper torso, the player may lift a bent arm in the shape of a chicken wing to dig the ball. Cut/Cut Shot/Cutty: An attack with an extreme angle. Deep Dish: A set that is held excessively long, typically set from below the shoulders. Dig: A defensive contact following an opponent's attack resulting in a playable ball. Double: A double contact, typically result of a botched set. Doubles: When each team consists of two members. Dump: A surprise attack usually executed by a front row setter to catch the defense off guard; many times executed with the left hand, sometimes with the right, aimed at the donut or area 4 on the court. Facial: When a defending player gets hit in the face with the ball either from an attack by the opposing team or by a deflection off the block. Five / Back (set) : Same as a hut set (3rd tempo), but to the weak-side. Five-One: Six player offense where a single designated setter sets regardless of court position. Floater/Float: A non-spinning serve that is unpredictable because its path is perturbed by air currents above the court, similar to a knuckleball in baseball. Free Ball: A ball that is passed over the net because an attack wasn't possible. Four (set): A high set (4th tempo) to the outside hitter. Four-Two: Six player offense where there are two designated setters and the front row setter sets.


Fours: A game played with four players to a side. Go: A low and very quick set (2nd tempo) to the outside hitter that is designed to be hit before a proper block can be put up to defend against it. Goofy footer: Originated as a skateboarding term; an attacker whose last step in the approach is taken with the foot on the same side as the hitting arm; right hander who takes his or her last step with the right foot, left hander with the left foot. Hammer: Hitting a ball extremely hard. Hubby-Wife/Campfire: When a served ball lands between two players of a doubles team as a result of neither one communicating and instead thinking the other player is going to get the ball. "Campfire" typically refers to an indoor game where there are more than two players standing around a ball. Hut: A quicker (3rd tempo) set to the outside hitter. Faster than a "four" but slower than a "go". Joust: when the ball is falling directly on top of the net, two opposing players jump and push against the ball, trying to push it onto the other's side. Jump Float: A jumping float server. Jump serve/Jumper: a serve made famous by Karch Kiraly; the serving player tosses the ball in the air and into the court, then uses an attack approach to jump and serve the ball. Kill: When a team attacks the ball and the defending team is unable to play the ball successfully. Kong: A one-handed block, usually because the blocker is late. Sort of a hail mary block. Libero: Italian word meaning free. A special defensive indoor position. Lift/Carry: An illegal contact where the ball is lifted or sticks. One (set - also called Quick) : A type of middle hit when the middle jumps before the setter sets, with the ball being set directly to the middle hitter's hand. Pancake: When a player digs the ball by extending his or her hand flat on the floor, bouncing the ball off the back of the hand. Pass: First contact of the ball, typically with the arms. However, indoor players can pass the first ball open-handed, similar to a set. Pipe (set): A ball set toward the middle of the court for a back-row attack. Roll Shot: An attacker hits the set softly putting extreme topspin on the ball so that it will clear the block and drop quickly and directly over the block. Shank: When the back-row player passes a serve that does not go to the setter and that usually flies off into another court. The other team cannot return it. Shot: An attack where the ball is not driven hard, but contacted in the same manner as a spike.


Harder than a dink, but significantly weaker than a spike. Shoot: A variation on the quick set except instead of setting the ball to the middle the ball is set to the outside hitter. Also when the ball is deliberately set over the net (usually to a deep corner). Side Out: When the team that served the ball loses the rally, causing the other team to serve the next point. Six-Two: Six player offense where there are two designated setters and the back row setter sets leaving the front row setter free to attack the ball. Sixes: A game played with six players to a side. Sky Ball: A unique underhand serve in which the ball is shot unusually high into the air above the opposing team's court in the attempt to confuse the receiver. Slide: An attack where the hitter jumps off one foot and moves parallel to the net, hitting the ball close to the antenna on the weak-side. Spach or Spachey: When an attacking player mishits a ball and puts backspin on it causing the ball to go way out of bounds. Spike: When an offensive player attacks the ball with a one-arm motion done over the head, attempting to get a kill. Stuff/Roof: When a defensive player jumps above the height of the net, blocks the ball, and the ball goes back at the person who attacked the ball. Tatoo: When one takes a ball in the face hard enough to leave an imprint of the lettering and seams on the ball. Pipe (set): A ball set for a back row attack in the middle of the court and just in front of the ten foot line. Tip: A softer or off-speed finesse attack, using the fingers and fingertips more than the whole hand as used in a spike. Three (set): A quick set to the middle hitter about 3 feet away from the setter (first tempo). Threes: A game played with three players to a side. Tool/Use : An attack which is deflected off an opponent (usually during a block) and is unplayable resulting in a point for the attacking team. Turn: The turn of the body, and subsequently the angle of the ball, that a hitter performs to avoid the block or to find open court. Trap: A ball set too close to the block where the hitter typically gets stuffed. Two (set): A ball set to the middle. Also, a "back two" is the same set, set behind the setter.


Wipe/Swipe: When one player pushes the ball against the opponent’s block and physically wipes the ball out of bounds. Similar to a tool.


Getting Started Hello ladies. I would like to say a few words about this coming season. We all want it to be very successful, but for our success to become a reality you must first accept my concept of what success truly is. True success in volleyball shouldn’t be based on individual statistics or the percentage of victories, any more than success in life should be based on material possessions or a position of power and prestige. Success must be based on how close you come to reaching your own particular level of competency. Outscoring an opponent is important, and we must make an honest effort to do that, but you must keep things in proper perspective. Our efforts on the court are only the building blocks for achieving success in life, and that should be our main purpose in being here. Even though it can never be attained, perfection should be our goal. Giving less than our best effort toward attaining perfection is not success – regardless of winning percentages or how successful others may perceive us to be. You cannot be truly successful without the peace of mind that comes from knowing you made the complete effort to become the best that you are capable of becoming. You and only you will know whether or not you have done that. You can fool others, but you cannot fool yourself. We must not become too concerned about the things over which we have no control, but we must make every effort to utilize to the best of our ability the things over which we have control. Everyone is different. There will always be others who are bigger, or stronger, or quicker, or better jumpers, or better in some other areas, but there are other qualities in which you can be second to none. Among these are – your dedication to the development of your own potential, your industriousness, your physical condition, your integrity, self-control, team spirit and cooperation. If you acquire and keep these traits, I can assure you that you will be successful, not just in volleyball, but in life, which is of far greater importance.


Now for some final thoughts; You are here to get an education, which will provide you with the foundation for a productive and pleasant future. Your education and academic progress must be your first priority. No one else can do it for you. While your academics come first, during the practice time, from 2-5pm, volleyball is prioritized. Careful planning and lots of hard work must occur in order for student-athletes to successfully manage both areas. Volleyball is your second priority and here again, it is entirely up to you – under my direction, of course - to make the best effort to reach your potential. Do not try to be better than someone else, but make every effort to become the very best you can be. For a team, at practice and at games, your concentration must be completely on volleyball. But the rest of the time you are not a volleyball player, you’re a student – a student who should neither want nor expect any special privileges.


Your Education

1. You are in High School to get an education. I want every person to earn a great education. Keep that first in your thought, but place volleyball second. 2. Do not cut classes and do be on time. 3. Do not fall behind and do get your work in on time. 4. Have regular study hours and keep them. 5. Arrange with your teachers in advance when you must be absent. 6. Do not expect favors. Do your part. 7. Work for a high grade point average. Do not be satisfied with merely meeting the eligibility requirements 8. Help your teammates by forming study groups and offer help tutoring. 9. Earn the respect of everyone, especially yourself.



• THE TEAM COMES FIRST • RULES HELP OUR TEAM RUN SMOOTHLY • OUR TEAM THRIVES ON TRUST AND RESPECT • OUR ATHLETES LEARN TO BE COACHABLE • OUR TEAM WORKS HARD • OUR TEAM HAS BALANCE • ON OUR TEAM, BENCH TIME IS PLAYING TIME • OUR TEAM GIVES A COMPLETE EFFORT AT AL TIMES • OUR TEAM HAS FUN • OUR TEAM PASSES IT ON PARENT EXPECTATIONS AND FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ACHIEVE VOLLEYBALL TEAM PHILOSOPHY Volleyball played well is a thing of beauty. Few athletic endeavors require as much teamwork; rarely does a sport reward hard work so completely. Athletes who study the game and apply the lessons learned relish every opportunity to practice and play. The Achieve coaching staff love volleyball. We are committed to you as students, as athletes and as young women. It is our goal to make your child’s high school volleyball the best part of their child’s high school experience. It is important for everyone to realize that this is not AYSO (everyone plays). The best player will play and if it is close between a senior and a freshman/sophomore, the underclassman will get the nod. It is the job of the upperclassmen to make the coaching staff think they are clearly better than the younger players. It is a player’s job to ask the coaches what they can do to improve if they are unhappy with playing time. Starting positions are always up for grabs. We


conduct periodic head-to-head challenges which allow girls to quantitatively show how they stack up to their teammates. THE TEAM COMES FIRST As a SHS volleyball player, you agree that the team is paramount. Your individual goals and your team’s goals do not necessarily conflict, but when they do, you accept that decisions are made for the good of the team. Successes are sweeter—setbacks sting less—when they are shared. RULES HELP OUR TEAM RUN SMOOTHLY Each player must decide if she buys into our system and is willing to commit to this team. Every rule is for the benefit of the team, and you have to decide, in advance, whether you want to follow them. If not, you should not be a part of the team. OUR TEAM THRIVES ON TRUST AND RESPECT You must trust your coach and your teammates, and behave in a way that earns their respect. You must do everything reasonably necessary to make yourself and your team better. OUR ATHLETES LEARN TO BE COACHABLE There is often more than one way to do things correctly. In some cases, however, your coaches will select a specific strategy for the benefit of the entire team, even if it may not seem to benefit a particular individual. You must be willing to make changes according to your coaches’ suggestions. If coaches seem to be “riding” you, it is usually because they think you are capable of a higher level of performance. OUR TEAM WORKS HARD Everyone wants to win, but few make the sacrifices to do it. No one will give you anything in life you must earn it. You cannot cut corners. If, for example, you don’t have a consistent, killer serve, you should work long and hard to get one. OUR TEAM HAS BALANCE To balance academics, athletics, work and family, you must plan ahead and make difficult choices. The choices you make will affect your future opportunities. Choose wisely. ON OUR TEAM, BENCH TIME IS PLAYING TIME As a SHS volleyball player, you maintain the same focus and enthusiasm whether you are between the lines or on the bench. You accept that playing time is decided by the coach for the good of the team in the circumstances of the moment. You know that SHS’s bench is its secret weapon: every player has her head in the game at every moment, and is ready to come in at any opportunity. OUR TEAM CAN BE SUCCESSFUL Your coaches want you to know that almost any obstacle can be overcome with hard work. Commitment, perseverance and responsibility will be rewarded.


OUR TEAM HAS FUN Volleyball is one of the most fun sports in the world. You know you’ve chosen the right sport if you simply can't wait to get back in the gym, and absolutely love stepping on the court with your friends and teammates every chance you get. OUR TEAM PASSES IT ON As you move through high school, share your new skills and insight with new or younger players. Be generous with your time. Consider helping at the middle school or club level as an assistant coach or referee. Be an active and involved Eagles alumnus.


Normal Expectations

1. Be ladylike at all times. 2. Be a team player. 3. Be on time whenever time is involved. 4. Be a good student in all subjects – not just in volleyball. 5. Be enthusiastic, industriousness, dependable, loyal and cooperative. 6. Be in the best possible condition – physically, mentally and morally. 7. Earn the right to be proud and confident. 8. Keep emotions under control without losing fight or aggressiveness. 9. Work constantly to improve without being satisfied. 10. Acquire peace of mind by becoming the best that you are capable of becoming.


1. Never criticize, nag or razz a teammate. 2. Never miss or be late for any class or appointment. 3. Never be selfish, jealous, envious or egotistical. 4. Never expect favors. 5. Never waste time. 6. Never alibi or make excuses. 7. Never require repeated criticism for the same mistake.


8. Never lose faith or patience. 9. Never grandstand, loaf, sulk, or boast. 10. Never have reason to be sorry afterwards.


Practice 1. Be dressed, on the floor, and ready for practice on time every day. Setters go right into setting reps, liberos/DSs into passing reps, everyone else putting up nets/mopping. Keep the balls stored away until setup is complete. There is no substitute for industriousness and enthusiasm. 2. When with ball and partner work on areas of weakness while warming up. Try to partner with different people on different days. 3. Work hard to improve yourself without having to be forced. Be serious. Have fun without clowning. You develop only by doing your best. 4. No cliques, no complaining, no criticism, no jealousy, no egotism, no envy, no alibi. Earn the respect of all. 5. When a coach calls players in, all give him or her your undivided attention. Gather round as close as possible in order to hear explanation. 6. Move quickly to get into position to start a new drill. 7. Keep a neat practice appearance by wearing issued practice shirts (if given), socks pulled up, hair in a ribbon, fingernails trimmed, etc‌ 8. Take excellent care of the equipment and facilities. Go out of you way to clean, maintain and organize the gym and volleyball rooms. 9. Do things the way you have been told and do not have to be told everyday. Correct habits are formed only thorough continued repetition of the perfect model. 10. Use progression-learning technique to gain mastery of a skill. Start with no ball and slowly work up to execution skill in game like conditions. 11. Be clever, not fancy. Good, clever play brings praise while fancy play brings ridicule and criticism. Take pride in outsmarting opponents. 12. Condition comes from hard work during practice and proper mental and moral conduct at all times. 13. Poise, confidence and self-control come from being prepared.


My Favorite Player By John Kessel After thirty plus years of coaching in this great sport, I think it is time to tell you who my favorite player is. Every coach has one you see, and I am no different. The player I am talking about I have never measured in height, but I know this player has the biggest heart of the team, and always plays up to a special stature. She is the one who cares about her teammates, on and off the court. The one who came up with the idea of enlarging her sick teammate’s face to life size, putting it on a stick and making sure it is in every picture taken, team or otherwise, when we went on an away trip. She is the one who understands the words, Citius, Altius, Fortius, and who I saw with my own eyes, or knew from the changes, was every day was doing something to make himself better as a player, and a person. She is the one who goes to the farthest corner of the gym to get that one errant volleyball hiding from others in plain view, always running to retrieve it, and always doing so without being asked. She is the one who is there 5 minutes before practice is to start, and the last one to leave the gym. She is the one who is a balance of humor and fun, coupled with intensity and full effort. He is the one who is nice. He understands the proverb of winning and losing are temporary, while friendships last forever. She is the one who could not get the ball over the net for weeks when first learning to serve, who gave the roundhouse serve a go, and in the end, served 5 straight points including two aces for the championships. She is the one who broke a team rule, and accepted the punishment without a word of complaint, and without blaming others, and who never broke that team rule again. She is the one who when she got injured by an opponent under the net, ended up making good friends with that player. She still came to practice and helped while healing, learning the coaching side of things, and helping out the team. She is the one who shanked the serve reception near the end of the game, but who did not turn to look at me for answers, instead refocusing and passing the last tough serves perfectly.


She is the one who brings up the team spirit, in voice, attitude, humor and support. Who goes for every ball, and gives full effort in every drill and game. She is the one who owns the record “wall ball” mark, for the highest on the wall spiking error in the team’s history, some 35 bricks high, and we still smile about it. She is the one who uses words better than I can, sharing with me great inspirational quotes, giving her teammates empowering nicknames like “Terminator” and “Crush;” contributing a great "cue word" for teaching a skill to her teammates. She is the one who sits out without tantrum or torment, being a team player on and off the bench, letting the coach play others as determined by the coach’s plans and totally supporting and encouraging those starting, if it was her turn to sit. She is the one who asks me...."Coach, how can I get better at _______________?,” and who doesn’t ask what she is doing wrong, but asks, “Coach, what do I need to do right this next time?” When asked what it takes to win an NFL Super Bowl, over 90% of the General Managers said one word – “talent.” Not every coach gets talent in the door every season, but I hope you each get a chance to have a favorite player every year. These players have taught me a lot about what matters in the game, beyond winning. What matters most is what is in the heart of an athlete.


Riding the Pine

Dear Coach Susie, I am becoming frustrated with my lack of court time during matches. My coach keeps telling me that I am improving, but I have to bring tweezers to get the splinters out after each game. I have thought about changing clubs but I would prefer to stay where I am, as I enjoy the atmosphere in this club. Sincerely, Cushion.


Dear Cushion, You must realize two things: Firstly, the coach has a responsibility to the team to get the best long term and short term results from the team. Secondly, coaches generally hate having to leave someone out of the play. The coach has to weigh up the importance of the situation, and whether or not it is possible to give the bench a run. There are times when the coach feels that they have a good enough lead to enable the bench player to settle into the game without walking straight in to a minefield. Occasionally in this situation, the team loses all rhythm and may end up losing the match, despite a handy lead. Volleyball does not offer the security of a definite finishing time as basketball or football. There are other occasions when times are desperate on court, so the coach throws a sub in at the deep end and they turn the game around. The latter case occurred during the Olympic Games. The Korean head coach was coaching a team that was losing unexpectedly. He looked down the bench and called a young player who had only just scraped into the national team, and threw her into the fray. She totally turned the game around, stayed on the court for the rest of the games and ended up with a medal.


Rules To Keep You On The Bench: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Don't take any interest in the game; rather, watch the athletes on the other court or in the crowd. Criticize not only your coach, but your teammates as well, and throw in the occasional laugh at their mistakes. Don't bother to listen at time-outs or bring drinks, etc., over. Frown when your coach tells you to go to warm-up. Ask the players on the court where you should be standing. Serve the ball either onto the attack line or against the back wall when you go on to serve, particularly in a pressure situation-then laugh! Make sure that the noise you make on the bench is totally unrelated to what's happening on the court. Leave all of the team gear sprawled out all over the benches and the floor when you change ends. Don't do your shoes up or have your kneepads on until you get onto the court you should make sure you're going to use them. Wander slowly up to the attack line when the sub is called, with your tracksuit top on but don't stand inside the attack zone. Play "dig the ball away from the setter" when you first come on to receive serve under the net or into the crowd if possible. Don't worry about really moving into correct position, because the other players are warm, so they can cover you, no matter where you go. Don't ask the coach how and where you can improve your game, and then make sure you get to trainings late, leave early. Miss regular team workouts or show up late without any reason. This tells all that you are a very important player. Get angry with the players who got good court time, because it's their fault that they played well enough to keep you off the court. Don't watch the game closely enough to give anyone any feedback on how the general team tactics were operating. Whenever a referee makes, you think, a bad call, let him know vocally and visibly. Never volunteer to call lines, score or umpire at tournaments. These jobs are only for lesser players. When sitting on the bench during a match, gripe constantly. This lets the coach know that you want to play and are better than the players on the floor. When you lose, always claim that your teammates have let you down. Blame the loss on their mistakes. Don't try to be better than a court player. They are the coach's pet and will always play in front of you anyway. Cry when the game is over so that everyone knows how disappointed you are at not making the court. If the coach doesn't gush with concern, then this just confirms hard-heartedness Don't do any technical or physical training by yourself because it's a scientific fact that training that no-one sees you do, does not have an effect. - Allow yourself the luxury of getting out of shape. Never give 100% in drills as they are boring and you want to save your strength


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for scrimmages and games. Whenever openly possible, when the situation presents itself, question the coach. This lets him/her know that he/she isn’t as smart as he/she thinks. Never help set up or take down equipment, as this lowers your prestige as a player. Always wait until the coach asks you. When you are talking after the game to friends who have come down to see you play, make up a good excuse for not getting court time. Limping after the game is a good one, but try to remember to always limp on the same leg. Make sure that everyone know what a whakka your coach is for not identifying your talent and giving you star billing. The motto "relentless pursuit" is that of medal winning USA teams, but they are too good and it clearly does not apply to you.

We are sure that if you follow these basic rules of the bench, you will be quite successful in achieving your aims. Now if you turn these points above around, you can see how to stay on the court! All of these qualities and statements are things players need to consider to help improve their attitudes and abilities towards volleyball. We Suggest: 1 2

Go watch better players. Play your heart out each game, so you can look teammates in the eye and ask without saying it, I played full out, did you? 3 Learn from the past, the traditions of the sport; study the historical greats in the game. 4 Do the impossible, do things you’ve never done before, be a drill instructor by example; no one should ever question your work ethic. 5 Easy going level-headedness, not cocky in your manner, just quiet confidence and a smile. 6 You have to “be” before you can “do,” and "do" before you can “have.” 7 Never back down, never fear anyone for the best players help you play your best. 8 Talent is no accomplishment, accomplishment is when you take whatever you have- and make it more- to be excellent you must strive to improve- not coast on your talent. Most of the top players are blessed with talent. It is luck they have the health and body to play. 9 Consistently watch tv, video and matches of teams better than you are. 10 For life to be meaningful, you must have a challenge. 11 You have courage when you most often choose generosity. 12 Always do right - This will gratify some people and astonish the rest… 50% of the teams in the world today lost…. It’s not the winning; it’s self-esteem, confidence, fun, teamwork, fun-fun-fun! Follow your passion as an athlete; make it


positive and not mandatory. We have to keep the fun in volleyball. Defense is an attitude, one that you can win. Matthew Grandison, fought hard for every bit of court time he received. The result was a very tough, fit and skillful competitor who has earned the respect of both players and coaches throughout the nation. It appears that Matthew's early coaches did him a favor by leaving him on the bench as a youngster. His determination to prove his worth on the court has pushed him past most of the players who were court players ahead of him in his youth. This story is repeated daily in every program, with players who choose to succeed. We suggest, "Cushion," that you ask your coach where you can improve your game. If the answer is technical or physical, it's up to you to work harder. If the answer is geographical, hop on your pony! By Coach Sue Dansie


How To Train Well

In the fast-paced world of juniors volleyball, players are truly in a race against the clock. Juniors’ volleyball has never been more cutthroat. Consider this question; would a coach put a junior or senior on a team if she could not pass or make her serve or hit her spikes over the net? Would the coach still make this choice if the player had a lot of potential? Would the coach make the same choice if the player were a freshman or an eighth grader? The point is, if players can become skilled at a young age they can be successful for their entire career. The only way to excel in volleyball is to train well. Many players think that they are doing all that they can do, but are actually unaware of several key components of training that, if mastered, can enhance their lifelong learning, success and fun in the sport of volleyball. First, players need to be able to set their intention. While this point seems simple, this is what makes a real difference in the heart of your training. Players who are unable to set their mind to a task are not going to make it in volleyball. The plays happen too quickly for players to become focused during the play. Therefore, players must be able to prepare ahead of the play and learn to extend that focus over longer and longer periods of time. There is an understanding that we have at our club that it takes approximately 400 perfect repetitions of a skill to “own” that skill. If players do not have a “clean” skill (i.e. they have developed bad habits, etc.) the number of repetitions they will need to “own” that skill can be 2000 or more. So, learning correctly and well early in your career is vital to your success as a player. Setting your mind to perform exactly what you need to do to execute that skill perfectly is essential in training. Next, the ability to deal properly with failure is absolutely essential in juniors volleyball. Since it takes a considerable amount of time to learn the game, players, parents, and coaches must be patient with young players’ development. Not only must players learn the skills of the game, they must also learn how to apply these tools to the game. This process takes practice, effort, and persistence. It is important that players love the trying. The true joy in volleyball comes from the back and forth action of play that occurs throughout the match. Understanding that failure is a part of the sport is key to making sense of the game. This point is not intended to mean that players should be comfortable with failure. It simply means that failure is part of the sport and that players should have a variety of healthy ways to deal with, and learn from, failure. The best response to failure is to recommit to your goal. By recommitting to your goal, your previous failure becomes merely a stepping-stone on your way to your goal, each bringing you closer to your goal. Every great athlete has had to deal with failure and loss. The best athletes learn from their failures and from their successes. Finally, players must be able to take instruction and coaching from a variety of different sources. Being coachable is essential because players will likely have many coaches throughout their careers. Each coach has different ideas on the best way to play volleyball. Players need to be able to put all of the different information together in order to get the most out of each experience. Coaches cannot stand it when players do not


allow themselves to be molded. Players are reluctant to change for many different reasons, but if a coach wants you to make a change than it is important that players trust that coach enough to change. If players do not trust the coach enough to believe that the change is in their best interest, then both the coach and the player need to do more in order to understand the point of view of the other. Remember, the coach is the coach for a reason. Whichever coach you are with at the time - do it their way. Learning a variety of methods is actually helpful to the learning process if players can understand the most important ideas behind the training. If players can set their intention, learn to deal effectively with failure, and be able to be coached and take instruction from a variety of sources, they will surely be successful in their volleyball careers. Lastly, remember that volleyball is a sport that requires years and years of learning to master. But, great effort over time equals results. Enjoy your training!!


You can’t give 110 percent

Give 100 percent. You can’t make up for a poor effort today by giving 110 percent tomorrow. You don’t have 110 percent. You only have 100 percent, and that’s what we want from you right now.

NOTE: Never think of your bruises or fatigue. If you are tired, think of how “all in” your opponent may be.

It is the hard work you do in practice after you are “all in” that improves your physical and mental condition. Push yourself when you are tired.


Positive Thinking

Whenever you go out-of-doors, draw your shoulders back, keep the head high, and fill the lungs to the utmost; drink in the sunshine; greet your friends with a smile, and put soul into every handshake. Do not fear being misunderstood and do not waste a minute thinking about your enemies. Try to fix firmly in your mind what you would like to do; and then, without veering off direction, you will move straight to the goal. Keep your mind on the things you would like to do, and then, as the days go gliding by, you will find yourself unconsciously seizing upon the opportunities that are required for the fulfillment of your desire. Picture in your mind the able, earnest, helping teammate and person you desire to be, and the thought you hold is hourly transforming you into that particular individual‌ Thought is supreme. Preserve a right mental attitude of courage, frankness and good cheer. To think rightly is to create. All things come through desire and every sincere prayer is answered. We become like that on which our hearts are fixed. -Elbert Hubbard


The Great Competitor

Beyond the winning and the goal, beyond the glory and the fame, She feels the flame within her soul, born of the spirit of the game. And where the barriers may wait, built up by the opposing Gods, She finds a thrill in bucking fate and riding down the endless odds. Where others wither in the fire or fall below some raw mishap, Where others lag behind or tire and cannot run another lap. She finds a new and deeper thrill to take her on the uphill spin Because the test is greater still, and something she can revel in.

- Grantland Rice


Acknowledging team plays and players It is important to acknowledge the playmakers that do the little, often unnoticed things to help facilitate the scoring of points. Complimenting them whenever a play away from them culminates in a point will do much to lift the team’s spirit. A scorer must always compliment the setter and all the girls must compliment the scorer, one who makes a nice defensive play, passes the ball well, gets a touch off the block, makes a good effort to be in defensive position, or makes some other valuable play - - not by great display, but by a nod, a smile or a kind word or two.


Attitude and Preparation Each player must have the proper mental outlook and mental attitude. She must be unselfish and want, not just be willing, to sacrifice individual glory for the welfare of the team.

She should be industrious and “bubbling over� with enthusiasm. As we have

said before, each player should feel that, although others may have more ability, may be larger, faster, quicker, able to jump higher, etc., no one should be her superior in team spirit, loyalty, enthusiasm, cooperation, determination, industriousness, fight and character. Each player should have and intense desire to improve. She should be studying and working toward further development at all times. In the majority of cases, the only difference between a truly star performer and just a good player is merely the perfection of a few minor details of fundamentals. This doesn’t occur by chance or accident, but by study and hard work. There is no substitute for being prepared and preparedness can be acquired only through study and hard work. Those who are prepared are never lacking in courage and confidence, and it is real, not fake.


Being A Team Player Volleyball is a sport that values teamwork. In a volleyball game many plays are dictated purely by the skill of the players. Many points, though, are also influenced directly and indirectly by the teamwork that occurs before, during and after the play. Understanding how to maximize your team’s ability to earn the “teamwork points” can help players and team get a competitive advantage and win more games. Truly, teamwork is a skill. Like any other skill, teamwork should be practiced deliberately. Players that understand their role in the team’s “master plan” are likely to be confident performers. Uncertainty leads to hesitation. In volleyball, hesitation costs your team points. Time spent on teamwork will pay dividends on and off the court. There are many easy ways for players to become better teammates. For example, instead of simply covering the block players should call the open hit for their teammate. Instead of saying “pipe” when setting a back row player, a great teammate might call the player’s name before they set the ball to them, then say “hit angle” after their set is in the air. Communication is one essential component of being a good teammate. Accepting responsibility and performing your role with confidence are also key components in becoming a great teammate. Your teammates must trust you. They must believe that your job will be handled with excellence. Demonstrate confidence by committing to your actions and trusting your decisions. When your teammates see you confidently handling your job, they will focus more attention on how to beat the other team, and less on which ball is yours or theirs. Good teammates are supportive of their teammates. I feel that the best teammates, though, help draw out the best of their teammates. Understanding your teammates’ needs and motivations can help you give each player what he or she needs to be successful. If


you know something that will help your teammate it is important to be able to share that with them in an appropriate way. The best teammates might say, “You’ll get the next one”, instead of “That’s okay” when their teammate makes a mistake. Being supportive does not necessarily mean being okay with mediocre effort or results. Understanding your teammates can help you figure out the best way to support each individual in the way that they are most comfortable with. A good teammate has her teammates’ backs. The best teammates understand that in competition there are winners and losers, and that teams win or lose together. The best teammates choose to support the team, and put the team’s interests above their own personal satisfaction. They don’t become focused on their individual concerns after the match is over, either. Excellent teammates understand that being part of a team means giving up a portion of your identity in order to develop a new sense of camaraderie. The best teammates give to their teams without expecting anything in return except the honor of being part of a special group, and the same efforts, in return, from their teammates. If you are not sure how you can be a better teammate, ask your coach. Teams, not individuals, win championships. Teamwork is the backbone of any successful volleyball team. Attention to this important aspect of competition will help you get the most of your experience playing volleyball. Enjoy the synergy!


Team Spirit

We want no “one woman” players, no “stars”. We want a team made up of six women at a time, each of who is a passer, spiker, server, defensive player setter, blocker, etc; in other words, each women should be able to score, out-jump or out-smart an opponent, or prevent the opposing team from scoring, as the occasion demands. No chain is stronger than its’ weakest woman. One woman attempting to “grandstand” can wreck the best team ever organized. We must be “one for all” and “all for one” with ever woman giving her very best every point of the match. The team is first, individual credit is second. There is no place for selfishness, egotism, or envy on our team. We want a squad of fighters afraid of no team, not cocky, not conceited, but a team that plays hard, plays fair, and plays to win – always remembering that “a team that won’t be beaten, can’t be beaten.” We want you to believe that “a winner never quits and a quitter never wins.” Make up your mind before the game that you won’t lose, that you can out-smart and out-fight the opposing team; in other words, if you have confidence in your team’s ability to win, you will be very tough to be beaten. Others may be faster than you are, larger than you are, and have far more ability than you have – but no one should ever be your superior in team spirit, fight, determination, ambition and character.


Handouts Above and Beyond Let the Season begin! I look out over the sea of volleyball matches and wonder how a motivated team can separate itself from the enormous number of quality teams involved in volleyball these days? Most teams run the same basic volleyball systems, use the same skills, have the same amount of practice time, and even have practically the same uniforms. Still, there is a distinct difference between better players and teams that cannot be attributed to training and competing “with the pack”. What areas can a team that truly wants to get ahead work on to make a significant difference when it comes time to win volleyball matches? This essay will explore three areas that can help create a significant difference in competition: choices, training, and trying. Choices are a huge concept for competition. Understanding that many, many things that happen in your life are under your control is central to the concept of choices. Teams that are victims to circumstance feel weak. If your team is empowered to feel that most of what goes on is under either their influence or their control, they will understand that choices shape the experience. In competition, you encounter millions of choices. Learning how to make effective decisions is the real key to mastering your potential. Continually working towards making the best choice possible in any given situation is essential to competing well. “Should I dump this ball or set the quick?” is a much stronger competitive thought process than “Oh no, this pass is tight, I have to…”. Become an active part of the game. Understanding and being able to utilize all of your options is essential to making good choices and winning key points. This is where training comes in. Training at a high level is the foundation of a successful team. It is simply impossible to consistently play “over your head”. The most successful players and teams become who they want to be long before competition. Engage each practice as a way of discovering your potential and improving your team. Developing skills that you can trust


is super important. Players who doubt their ability are not as aggressive as confident players, and consequently make fewer plays. The ball moves very fast in volleyball. Being aggressive and being able to execute your skills in an aggressive manner in competition is vital if your team wants to win. The only way to develop trust in the necessary skills and strategies is to practice until it is second nature. Only when the best response is your response, without even thinking about it, are you truly trained as a player. Training well is the only way to become a successful team. Trying also plays an important role in competition. It may sound simple, but teams who give their authentic best effort at all times in practice, physical training, and competition are the most successful over the long run. Teams who need something to get them going or give selective effort are inconsistent at best. Trying can be defined as many things. Going for the ball, talking, mentally and competitively engaging the match, being coachable, being focused on the opponent, or physically asserting oneself, are all ways to try. Understanding your role and how to help your team win is also central to trying. Often, the best thing that the best teams do is try. They simply try longer, harder, and more consistently than their competition, both in practice and games. These teams understand the real connection between effort and results. These teams earn their wins. All teams can benefit from focusing their attention on choices, training, and trying. Winning matches is not easy. There are lots of teams that want to win. Doing the things that matter, forgetting the things that don’t, and doing your best are the most important concepts in competition. Enjoy your next competition by genuinely feeling that you’ve done everything you can to help your team. Go above and beyond!


COMPETE ONLY AGAINST YOURSELF Set your standards high; namely do the absolute best of which you are capable. Focus on running the race rather than winning it. Do those things necessary to bring forth your personal best and don’t lose sleep worrying about the competition. Let the competition lose sleep worrying about you. Encourage your teammates to do the same.



EXCELLENCE IS EXECUTION. Excellence is accomplished through deliberate actions, ordinary in themselves, performed consistently and carefully, made into habits, compounded together, added up over time. Since it is acquired through executing the basics, it is within the reach of everyone, all the time. So this is your challenge:

Be deliberate in your actions (the things players you do in training).

There are no ordinary actions only ordinary players.

Performed them consistently (do them on a regular basis).

Do them carefully (with high standards and consummate focus).

Develop positive habits (coached into your technical, tactical, psychological, and

physical fabric). •

Compounded them together (with an understanding of harnessing all the elements)

Added them up over time (done appropriate on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly


-Daniel F Chambliss, Sociological Theory, 1989


Game Competition

1. Have courage and do not worry. If you do your best, never lose your temper, and are never outfought or out-hustled, you have nothing to worry about. 2. Without faith and courage you are lost. 3. Have respect without fear for every opponent and confidence without cockiness in regard to yourself 4. Think all of the time. Study your opponent and yourself all of the time for the purpose of increasing your effectiveness and diminishing hers. 5. Never be a spectator while in the game. Be doing something at all times, even if it is only being a decoy. 6. Teamwork is essential. Unselfish team play and team spirit are the foremost essentials for success when any group is working together. 7. Be at your best when your best is needed. Enjoy the thrill of a tough battle.



Success in coaching or playing should not be based on the number of games won or lost, but rather on the basis of what each individual did in comparison with others when taking into consideration individual abilities, the opponents, the site of the contests, etc.

True success comes only to an individual by self-satisfaction in knowing that you gave everything to become the very best that you are capable of. As George Moriarty once said, “Giving all, it seems to me, is not so far from victory.� Therefore, in the final analysis, only the individual can correctly determine his or her success. You may be able to fool others, but you can never fool yourself.

It is impossible to attain perfection, but that should be the goal. Less than 100% of your effort toward obtaining your objective is not success, regardless of how many games were won or lost.

Others may have far more ability than you have, they may be larger, faster, quicker, able to jump higher, etc., but no one should be your superior in team spirit, loyalty, enthusiasm, cooperation, determination, industriousness, fight, and character. Acquire and keep these traits and success should follow.


Mental Imagery By Marv Dunphy While it is important to work out physically to condition your body, you can also become a better player at home by practicing mentally. Championship athletes have known for years that mental practice can help performance. Mental imagery or visualization is the name given to this type of mental practice. It can be done externally observing volleyball players or a videotape, or imagining watching yourself from outside your body. (Golfer Jack Nicklaus calls this "going to the movies") It can also be done internally (feeling" yourself doing the action). When using this technique in volleyball, imagine yourself doing everything correctly from start to finish, being sure to include a successful outcome. Perform the action in full speed in your mind, and use as many senses as you can. For example, if you are going to play before a big crowd, you might want to play crowd noise on a tape player in the background as you mentally practice your skills. Checklist for Mental Imagery 1. Watch top-level volleyball players or videotapes of volleyball skills. 2. Be the star in your own movie by closing your eyes and performing skills to perfection in your mind. 3. Always see yourself completing all aspects of the skill perfectly, including a successful finish. 4. Practice all aspects of the game mentally as well as physically. 5. Always be positive in your instruction to yourself.


Mistakes When mistakes are made, such as missing a serve, hitting a ball out, shanking a pass, doubling a set or letting a ball drop without someone diving for it, or something similar, I insist that girls never criticize each other but encourage the offender so that it won’t happen again. It is up to the coach to do the criticizing and it should be as constructive as possible.


Motivational Strategies By Doctor John Eliot Sports Psychologist

Push the Edge Find a weakness or hole in your game and get excited about where your game will be after you change it. Be creative. Think up something no one in your sport has dared or perfected. Experience Success When learning new skills and strategies, go step-by-step. Start with an easy piece, master it, and then move on to the next easiest piece. Or begin by modifying the skill to something you can do well. Let yourself experience success. Keep track of your personal records and how many times you can break them. Change Your Thinking The old adage about learning from your mistakes is okay, but over time you should have a short-term memory for failures and a long-term memory for success. Keep a vivid mental catalog of your greatest performances. Get Involved Autonomy directly improves motivation, and perhaps the greatest contributor to autonomy is having input on decisions that affect you. In both individual and team sport settings, athletes should feel ownership of training rules, competition choices, and strategy decisions. At the professional level, many head coaches comment that their success depends entirely on their players' belief in the "system" or playbook. The easiest way to ensure this is to become involved in the process. Praise Others If you can't see positive or exciting things in the athletes and coaches around you, how can you do the same for yourself? Moreover, a sense of connectedness depends on everyone's awareness of the contributions made by others. Vary Training An imbalance between high competence and low task difficulty can result in boredom. So too can constant hammering at one task. A significant portion of training should be devoted to play for the sake of play, without rules or evaluation. Put Yourself First Human beings are most productive at homeostasis since in that state they are not distracted by conflicting drives. Make sure to eat properly, stay hydrated, and get ample rest.


Find Motivated Peers On and off the field, spend your time with people who want to accomplish great things, who aren't afraid to talk about it, and who get revved up by other people's dreams. An effective support team is vital to motivation, especially during difficult times. Conversely, motivational "black holes" are people who always criticize the coach, moan about bad calls, loaf in practices and workouts, and generally focus on obstacles, frustrations, and what can't be achieved. Think Positively What conversation goes on in the back of your head? It's with you all day, but how much of it do you pay attention to? Actually, all of it, subconsciously. You'd better start paying conscious attention. Is it positive or negative? Is it about what you can do or what you can't do? Is it hung up on difficulties or engaged in a search for solutions? Remember Your Dream Don't make revisiting your dream a rare event. Spend time frequently reconnecting with the real reason why you perform - the heart, soul, and will of it all.


Satisfaction By Michael Josephson It’s both a strength and a weakness of human nature that we’re never satisfied for long. Whatever we have, wherever we are, most of us want more and better. When focused on money or power, our insatiability can turn into happiness-crushing greed, avarice, and obsessive ambition. But in other areas of life, our desire for more and better can be a good thing. For example, in business we should continually strive for improvement and innovation. When assessing the quality of education or health care, government integrity or efficiency, or the general state of social justice, we should never be satisfied. In our personal lives, we should strive for better relationships by improving communications and organizing our lives better. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting a better job, one that’s more intellectually challenging, emotionally rewarding, financially remunerative, and socially significant. To live and enjoy a good life, we need to find a healthy balance between wanting more and appreciating enough. You see, it’s possible to realize that what we have is worthy of gratitude and appreciation, even as we strive for more. Not being satisfied doesn’t have to be the same as being dissatisfied. Dissatisfaction is a negative state of mind. It’s a form of unhappiness. Thus, it’s important to find a comfortable place between satisfaction and dissatisfaction. That place can be the state of contentment marked by true appreciation of what one has and the ability to enjoy it. In the progression of good, better, and best, better and best are superior to good. But good is still good. Enjoy the process.


Success in life

1. Be true to yourself. 2. Make each day your masterpiece. 3. Help others. 4. Drink deeply from good books including the good book. 5. Make friendship a fine art. 6. Build a shelter against a rainy day. 7. Pray for guidance and give thanks for your blessings every day.

-John Wooden


The value of a smile

It costs nothing, but creates much. It enriches those who receive, without impoverishing those who give it. It happens in a flash, but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever. None are so rich they can get along without it, and none so poor but are richer for its benefits. It creates happiness in the home, fosters good will in a team, and is the countersign of friends. It is rest to the weary, daylight to the discouraged, sunlight to the sad, and nature’s best antidote for trouble. Yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen, for it is something that is no earthly good to anybody till it is given away. And if in the aftermath of a sound defeat, our opponents are too distraught to think of a smile, we ask you to leave one of yours. For nobody needs a smile so much as those who have none left to give.


The Journey Through Adolescence By Michael Josephson One of the toughest jobs in the world is being a teenager. Everything is in transition. Everything is intense -- even apathy. Kids on the brink of adulthood have to cope with inconsistencies and conflicts. The desire to be special and different clashes with the need to belong and fit in. The desire for independence collides with the aversion to self-reliance and personal responsibility. Here are five suggestions to improve the journey through adolescence: 1. Be yourself. Mindless conformity is a prison. Express yourself authentically and don't be afraid to stand out. But don't dress or behave in extreme ways just to be different or to prove you can. You don't need orange hair, a nose ring, or tattoos to be special. In the end, it's more important to be respected than noticed. 2. Don't expect too much or settle for too little. Don't expect anyone else to make you happy, but don't allow others to treat you badly. Hang out with people who bring out the best in you, and be the kind of person who brings out the best in others. 3. Think of responsibility as a privilege, not a penalty. Dependability and self-reliance are the tickets to freedom and independence. Don't waste energy resisting what you have to do. Win trust by doing what you should do. 4. Think ahead. The choices you make today will shape tomorrow. Every act has a consequence. Pleasure lasts for a moment, but happiness lasts much longer. Be careful; just because it feels good doesn't make it good. 5. Take charge of your own life. Your life is your ship; be the captain, not a passenger. Figure out what needs to be done to improve your life and make it happen. Your attitudes are more important than your aptitudes. You can't control what happens to you, but you can control what happens in you.


Benefits of Female Sports • • • • • •

Teenage female athletes are less than half as likely to get pregnant as female nonathletes. Physical activity appears to decrease the initiation of high-risk health behavior in adolescent girls, such as smoking. Research suggests that girls who participate in sports are more likely to experience academic success than those who do not play sports. High school girls who play sports are more likely to do well in science. Women student-athletes graduate from college at a significantly higher rate than women students in general. Half of all girls who participate in some kind of sports, experience higher than average levels of self-esteem and less depression.

On the health front • •

High School sports participation may help prevent osteoporosis (loss of bone mass). One to three hours of exercise a week from teens till the age 40 may bring a 2030% reduction in the risk of breast cancer, and four or more hours of exercise a week can reduce the risk almost 60%.

-Facts compiled by the Women’s Sports Foundation.

If You Let Me Play If you let me play I will like myself more I will have more self-confidence I will suffer less depression I will be 60% less likely to get breast cancer If you let me play I will be more likely to leave a man who beats me I will be less likely to get pregnant before I want to I will learn what it means to be strong If you let me play sports -Nike


It’s Not Where You Are, It’s Who You Are

-John Kessel, USA Volleyball Director of Education Let me reflect on what you need to do to achieve your best performance. Some of these thoughts should help you approach your athletic potential. As a coach, I burn with the desire to help an athlete accelerate the development of a personal philosophy. The ideas which follow accumulated during decades of helping players achieve personal excellence. The Olympic motto "Citius, Altius, Fortius" guides our efforts as staff and athletes. "Swifter, Higher, Stronger." To win, we must push ourselves, giving all we can for as long as we can, and then, if possible, beyond. The motto does not translate as "Swiftest, Highest, Strongest" even though the medals are awarded for those attributes. Rather, Olympism is the pursuit of excellence in yourself and of personal improvement every day, on and off the court. Remember this about your pursuit, "If it is meant to be, it is up to me...." While there have been many people, experiences, and books from whom or which I have learned, John Wooden taught me most. A new book, "The Ultimate Guide to Life, Leadership, Friendship, and Love," (by Neville Johnson) describes and illustrates the ideas of John Wooden and his pyramid of success. Buy or borrow a copy of this book! It contains guidance which would help any person, athlete or not, become the best he or she can be. Marv Dunphy and Doug Beal, both Olympic Gold Medal coaches, also have contributed significantly to my education. As Marv once noted, "It is not where you are, it is who YOU are; it is not how big you are, it is how good or how great you are." The following axioms summarize two generations of lessons for how to be a winner in life: THERE IS ONLY ONE CHAMPION - This is our holy grail, and every team in our championship division is seeking that same trophy. Now, we must define what winning is. In this team sport of volleyball, one person cannot win the game by his or herself. It is a team sport, so the winning is out of just one player's control. So, winning is always, ALWAYS going to be defined as doing all you can to be the best you can be. John Wooden's classic Pyramid of Success has at its peak, the statement. "Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming." If you do this...the winning on the court will be more likely. Should you play your best, and lose in the point column, what more can you ask of yourself? Nothing...for you won. quote George Moriarity, "Giving all, it seems to me, is not so far from victory."


TEACH OTHERS TO TEACH YOURSELF - If you coach, you will be a better player. This is true at any age level, so seek out and create time to coach others less skilled and/or experienced than you are. In Japan, the after school elementary school practices I worked with were 45 minutes of games and practice for the 7-10 year olds, who were coached by the 10-12 year olds under the watchful eye of the adult head coach, then 45 more minutes where the head coach trained these 10-12 year olds once they were done coaching. Make players coaching others a part of your programming, not just in camps but in your own practices. Grow the game and your game by coaching others. COMPETE WITH YOURSELF - Demand more from yourself than from your teammate. This is the sign of a serious and true competitor. This is how you will become the best you can be, and thus help USA win a gold. To excel, focus on yourself first. No matter how small or unimportant it may seem, look for ways to be better when you leave training than when you walked in, whether it be the weight room, training room, physical testing, or the court. By competing as hard as you personally can, you will also help those around you be better. Gold Medalist Dan Jansen said " I do not try to be better than anyone else, I try to be better than myself." TALENT IS A JOB, NOT A GIFT - If you have talent, you can be good without working hard, but to be great, you must work hard. Volleyball is a hard sport to learn, so do not expect it to be easy, for it takes years to be great. People see talent in two ways, One group sees that talent is to be developed through hard work, while others see it being something you either have or do not. Those athletes who know that skill takes time, will practice longer/have patience thru tough times. Research shows that higher performance happens with those athletes who expect to have to work long and hard to develop their talent. Superstars, like Karch, Jordan, Gretzky Woods, share an intensity and drive to constantly improve their talents. Karch's coaches and teammates describe him as the hardest worker in the gym/on the sand. You have to BE, before you can DO, and DO before you can HAVE. LEARN EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE - STAY IN CONTROL - These same superstars share the ability to stay in control, despite the great pressures they encountered, using their emotions effectively. They stay focused, and efficient, the mental discipline, to act decisively when it counts. Karch would stay on the court in the sand during time outs, staring at the opponent's empty court, while one teammate called Jordan, the Predator. Controlling frustration, anger, fear, and even confidence is an athlete's responsibility, not that of the coach. Develop responses that MAKE SURE TO GET REST - One of the key items I learned from the Prep for Sydney meetings for head coaches was realization that there is no such word as "Overtraining. " To be great you must train very hard sometimes. What you also must make sure you get is enough rest and recovery, for you are training hard. Everything you are doing en route to a gold medal is important, significant, and meaningful. As the distractions mount towards the end of a long season, it is vital to get enough good rest. At the same time, remember the words of Jerry West - "You can't get much done in life if you only work on the days you feel good, for work beats talent, unless talent works."


BE A TRUE TEAMMATE - One who is responsible for yourself, to your team's obligations and to your personal and team goals. You, no one else, are accountable for ALL your actions. Be honest and trustworthy to yourself, your teammates and the entire team staff. Ask when you have questions. You need to make sure that you are all pulling on the SAME end of the rope....together and strong. TEACH YOUR COACH HOW TO HELP YOU LEARN BETTER - In the art of coaching, coaches have many colors and different paintbrushes on their pallet that they can use to help you learn to be your best. It is just that each of you are unique, and for us to excel, a coach should not treat, nor teach each of you the same. Skilled coaches have learned to be consistent with each of you, but not the same. They are there for you in every practice. It is not their job to hammering you with constant feedback, but letting you learn. They will summarize feedback at times, but anytime you want to ask a technique or tactic question, you can talk to your coach who will always listen. Day or night, on the court, by phone, or even email! It is what you learn, not what the coach knows, that matters. It is our role to help you become a player who is all you can be-without the coach -- for you are the athlete on the court of competition, and we cannot think for you as you play. You will always be your best coach, for you are with yourself 24 hours a day... COMMUNICATE - Talk and listen with your teammate and any staff helping you become your best. Share information you think will help us be our best. Silence equals acceptance, so speak out if you do not accept it. When off the court, read books and watch movies that can give you a new idea or inspiration to be great. If you have a problem, all energies will go towards the solution. KNOW YOUR ROLE - You need to understand and perform your role, just as much as you need to perform technical skills. We have a GREAT staff assembled to help you be your use us. Who is on the court will be determined by on the court competition when the points are tallied. Since a teammate does not err on purpose, you need to put those errors immediately in the past, and focus on what you can control, the next point. SUCCESS IS A JOURNEY, NOT A DESTINATION - You get better one play at a time. Certainly touching the ball yourself helps you learn the most, but each contact, by your teammates as well, can be a joy and a learning experience. We all can see Scott Fortune kill the overpass for the Seoul Gold Medal match point...and should be able to see Eric Sato's jump serve that set it up. We have such a great sport to celebrate in, rally by rally. Enjoy this time as an elite athlete. It is exciting to be playing volleyball, especially at this level. Have fun and smile, it takes fewer muscles, and it makes you stronger.

PLAY SINGLES IN THE GARAGE - It is important to learn to play this game over a net. In the winter, you can still string up a rope, and play one on one with that one friend, or sibling, who shares your love of playing this game. Play one on two if someone else shows up, or even doubles, using a beach ball or a real ball. If you can, put up a net or just a rope for even a small distance in the backyard, and play these small sided games on smaller than normal courts. Learn to read and anticipate what an opponent is preparing to


do before they send it over the net.

FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL - A setter cannot control the passer, or the hitter, a passer cannot control the server. You cannot even control what your teammates say, think, or do. You can only control yourself, so focus on what YOU can do. FOCUS POINT BY POINT - In a related way, every match has three parts, a past, present and future. You cannot control the past, even that last rally. Nor can you control the future (if you can, get into the stock market, make millions then give it back to volleyball please). So by focusing on the point at hand, playing one point at a time, you eliminate two-thirds of the worries many players have cluttering their heads as they play. What do you do NOW. IF YOU WANT TO BE BETTER YOU MAY HAVE TO CHANGE - These changes may cause you to slide backwards for a bit of time. Pay close attention to the small successes you achieve by making these changes. Turn your wounds into wisdom, and hey, remember...50% of the teams playing today in 220 nations around the world - lose. The key is to keep pushing forward. BE A POWERFUL PRESENCE - Be yourself, and be proud. If you gripe at calls, turn your back on teammate errors, hang your head or kick a ball, get frustrated outwardly, it gives energy to your opponents and weakens you and the team. Forget your mistakes and focus on what you can control...the upcoming play. Focus on what to do, not your errors, and always and only let them see that you are powerful and confident. Never let anyone out hustle you, even if they outscore you. As Bill Neville oft says, play like junkyard dawgs‌ BETTER WHAT WAS GIVEN TO YOU- I remember Marv Dunphy summing up why he thought we won the gold medal in the Seoul Olympics. He felt at that time, just hours after the success, that it was due to playing better team defense and bettering the ball. It is your duty and focus as a teammate to make the ball you got better, no matter how difficult the incoming ball is. Every ball can and must be played! In our three contacts, we can improve the bad pass, if we are setting, kill the ball off of a wayward set. Bettering the ball happens not just on the court, but off. If you have ideas that might work in other areas of your development, share them, in order to make that also better for the next person. RELENTLESS PURSUIT - For those of you who know my far side, you will understand then my two rules in this key area of pushing yourself on the court. Rule #1, Go for EVERY ball. Rule #2, If the ball is too far away to reach, see rule #1. And a corollary to this high effort is: Winners never fear risking to lose. WATCH THOSE BETTER THAN YOU - Watch videotapes of the Olympics, and NCAA Championships. Go watch levels of play higher than you compete in -the 18 and unders if a Junior Olympian, or collegiate matches, and the National Team any time you


can catch them on TV or in person. Watch one player who you want to be like as they do the whole rally, by not focusing on the ball, but their actions before, during and after the rally, before during and after each contact. What are they looking at and learning to read? Why did they move to that spot before ball was hit and not some other place? There is much more learned by what is done before the ball is touched, that you need to develop too. SHARE YOUR SECRETS - The best thing about our Prep for Sydney meetings in Chicago and Sydney, was the chance to share our ideas with other Olympic bound coaches and support staff. I will be passing these along to others, starting with the Paralympic and Olympic staffs, as part of the team around the team we have here. If you have an idea that you think might help you or the team programming be better, share it, for unlike items, when you share ideas, you still have yours, while adding new ones to our tools to be our best. Pass them along to me at I will be sharing more with you later, but for now, it is back to learning, er, I mean work. Check out the Kessel Family Tales at for parenting and laffs‌


Wooden’s Philosophy of Success

The Genesis UCLA won ten national championships while I was the basketball coach, and Mr. Lawrence Scheidler played a role in all of them. How big a role did he play? Let me tell you a story and then you can decide for yourself. Mr. Scheidler was a math teacher back at Martinsville High School in Indiana when I was a sophomore. Occasionally he discussed topics other that mathematics. One day in March he instructed the class to write a paper defining success. Mr. Scheidler wanted to get us thinking about the concept of success and whether it just meant getting rich or famous or beating somebody in a ball game. Well, this got me thinking hard about the subject, and I continued thinking about it for a long time after I completed Mr. Scheidler's homework assignment. In fact, I reflected on it for decades. Later, when I entered the teaching and coaching profession after graduating from Purdue, the question continued to intrigue me because I found myself a little bit disillusioned with what seemed to be expected from youngsters under my supervision in classrooms. Are You a Failure if You Do Your Best? Parents wanted their children in my English classes at South Bend Central to receive an A or a B even though many were not capable of earning that. The parents judged an A or B as success and anything else as failure. Keep in mind that most of us are about average, and C is an average grade. For parents to think their youngster, a child who might have only average ability in English, had failed with an average grade after performing to the best of his or her ability seemed unfair to me. Apparently the grade of C was all right for their neighbor's child but not for their own. It brought to mind Mr. Scheidler's assignment: what exactly is success (and failure)? Did You Really Win if You Gave a Second-Rate Effort? I didn't like these parents' way of measuring success and failure because it was unfair. I felt a child who worked very hard, tried his or her very best, and received a C grade had a higher level of personal success than a more gifted youngster who got a B but didn't put forth a full effort.


I began searching for some way that would not only make me a better teacher but give the youngsters under my supervision something to aspire to that was more productive, more fair, and more rewarding. Recalling Dad's Words In struggling to find an answer to the question Mr. Scheidler had posed years before, I recalled what my dad had constantly tried to get across to us when we were growing up back on the farm: don't worry much about trying to be better than someone else. Now that may seem a little strange to you. You might not comprehend its true meaning if that was all he had said, However, Dad always added the following. "Always try to be the very best that you can be. Learn from others, yes. But don't just try to be better than they are. You have no control over that. Instead try, and try very hard, to be the best that you can be. That, you have control over. Maybe you'll be better than someone else and maybe you won't. That part of it will take care of itself." Those were strong words. I remembered them in trying to give my students something to which they could aspire other than just a higher mark. I also wanted something more productive and rewarding for the athletes I was coaching in football, tennis, basketball, and baseball. I didn't want points to be the final measurement of their achievement or success. It seemed to me that it was possible to win and be outscored, or to lose even when you outscored an opponent. I thought so then and I still do. Creating My Definition of Success I thought about what my father had said, Mr. Sheidler's writing assignment on success, and a verse I happened to read about this time: At God's footstool to confess, A poor soul knelt and bowed his head. "I failed." He cried. The Master said, "Thou didst thy best, that is success." Keeping all these in mind, I finally coined my definition in 1934. Success is peace of mind that is the direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming. Furthermore, only one person can ultimately judge the level of your success -- you. Think about that for a moment.


I believe that is what true success is. Anything stemming from that success is simply a by-product, whether it be the score, the trophy, a national championship, fame, or fortune. They are all by-products of success rather than success itself, indicators that you perhaps succeeded in the more important contest. That real contest, of course, is striving to reach your personal best, and that is totally under your control. When you achieve that, you have achieved success. Period! You are a winner and only you fully know if you won. You Are Different; I Am Different Obviously, the Good Lord in his infinite wisdom didn't make everyone alike or put everyone in the same environment. Some of us are shorter or taller, quicker or slower, smarter or otherwise. Situations vary. Some people have more opportunities, some less. We are not the same in all these things, but we are all the same in having the opportunity to make the most of what we have, whatever our situation. The ultimate challenge for you is to make the attempt to improve fully and be your best in the existing conditions. I wanted to get this idea across to the youngsters I was teaching. I wanted them to know that making the very most of what you have is success and that it is something you control. I wanted the athletes I was coaching to understand this as well. The Hard Part Is Still Ahead Having defined what I believe success truly is, I recognized there was an even greater task before me: to fully understand and describe what was necessary to achieve this success, both individually and as a member of a basketball team or any other team in life. Without this second part, it would be like going on a trip in your car if you knew where you wanted to go but didn't know how to get there. You might correctly be described as going nowhere. Ten National Championships What I eventually discerned led to something that got a lot of attention-those records established by UCLA basketball teams: ten national championships, seven of them in consecutive years, the undefeated seasons, and the 88-game winning streak. But, more than that, it provided me with a guide, a standard of preparation and performance that brought me the greatest peace of mind in all areas of my life. I believe it provided the same for many of those whom I taught.


Finding the answers: The Pyramid One day I saw an illustration that helped lead me to the answers I was looking for. It was called the ladder of achievement. The author had taken a ladder with five rungs and had given each rung of that ladder a name describing something he thought was necessary to get to the top of the ladder. Naturally I could not use the ladder idea, and I had a completely different notion of what the top consisted of. But it gave me the idea for what became the Pyramid of Success. I decided that the individual blocks of the Pyramid would consist of those personal qualities necessary for achieving success according to my definitions: peace of mind that is the direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming. Mr. Scheidler's Question So, as you can see, I've spent most of my lifetime pursuing the issue posed in Mr. Scheidler's classroom back in Indiana: What is success? It was a question that my father had already begun to answer for me with his wisdom on our little farm. What is success? How do you achieve it? Who has it? These questions really go to what life is all about. I so believe this: A man or woman who strives conscientiously to become the best that he or she is capable of becoming can stand tall on Judgment Day. That person will be judged a big success regardless of whether he or she has accumulated riches, glory, or trophies. The values, ideals, and principals of the Pyramid of Success are the qualities that I believe will allow you to stand tall, now and throughout your days. Furthermore, I believe that all of us have within us the building blocks of success. The potential is within each of us waiting to come forth. That's what you must always keep in mind. You have success within. It's up to you to bring it out. I've been trying to do that in my own life for over eighty years. I will continue each day to strive for that until the moment the Good Lord calls me to be with my dear Nellie again. -John Wooden


How to eat for success If anyone has any medical problems, they should consult a doctor before implementing any of these suggestions. The philosophy behind eating for success is based on sugars. Sugar converts into the energy needed to compete.

The way of eating described below will aim at having all 3

pre-game meals deliver their sugar punch at game time.

In case you didn’t know,

complex carbohydrates and simple carbohydrates both eventually break down into simple sugars (complex carbs take longer to break down than do simple carbs). Night before game- Dinner is a good time to eat green salads and vegetables.


should also eat a good serving of protein. It is very import to eat a lot of protein after every practice to help your muscles rebuild from the days activities. Unless planning for an AM workout, eating carbohydrates for dinner is not necessary.

Carbs eaten at dinner

will be converted into sugars after about 1 to 3 hours after consumption. Your body will expect this potential energy to be expended. If one goes to sleep at this time these sugars will be converted and stored as fat. Breakfast (gameday)- Must include Complex Carbs (oatmeal, whole wheat pancakes, bagel, etc..), and maybe 1 or 2 eggs. This protein consumption is more to help your muscles rebuild from the previous days training than to get energy for the game. And, adding protein will delay the digestion of your cards and keep you from feeling empty. Lunch (gameday)- Should be eaten about 3 hours before a match.

Simple carbohydrates

(white rice, white flour products, white or wheat bread and unrefined sugars(fruits, juices, smoothies), and some lean meat(chicken breast, lunch meat, etc..)


Pregame Snack and hydration- Flush your system with water one hour before game time. Keep sipping on water until game time.

For a snack eat complex sugars (fruit).

Game time-3:00pm During games- The only thing anyone should be drinking during a match is Gatorade. Water does not have the necessary simple sugars, electrolytes, and sodium your body needs to maintain energy and replace lost fluids. Post-game- Keep drinking Gatorade for about an hour after the match in order to rehydrate.

A candy bar may be good for players to get their blood sugar levels back up.

Dinner- Treat yourself. And eat lots of protein.

Your Dinner meals should include

some kind of green salad and vegetables. ** Include as many healthy food choices (fruits/vegetables) as possible into this plan** Day of game foods to avoid: -Too much salt(fluid retention) -Caffeine (Dehydration), e.i., soda, tea and coffee -High fiber foods, i.e., salad, vegetables, foods with bran -Gas formers, i.e. broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, dried beans, onion Cut Here -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I have read these eating guidelines, and will make an effort to make conscious eating decisions based upon the above-mentioned principles. As a parent, I will try to make these type of food options available for my child, whenever possible. ______________________ Player Signature

______________________ Parent/Guardian Signature


# Name





Service Error




Good Nuetral Error

Setting Blocks







Scouting Template


PLAYER # ____ _____________________________ ____ _____________________________ ____ _____________________________ ____ _____________________________


DEFENSIVE WEAKNESSES ______________________________________ ______________________________________ ______________________________________ ______________________________________ ______________________________________ ______________________________________ 108

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